Shot in the back: accident, momentary loss of reason, or homicide? The case of Johannes Mehserle

Jun 14, 2010

Shouting, chaos and confusion at the Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transition) station in Oakland on New Years Day 2009 ended with Oscar Grant III, a young, African American man, shot in the back by twenty-eight-year-old, white BART police officer, Johannes Mehserle. The shooting, widely viewed on YouTube and local news outlets, ignited a massive public outcry. The murder trial of Mehserle, which began last week, has been moved to Los Angeles amid concerns of a tainted jury pool. The question comes down to whether Mehserle shot and killed Grant intentionally or if it was the result of a tragic accident. Mehserle’s defense attorney claims that the officer meant to grab his Taser, not his gun. Both the defense and the prosecution will rely heavily on video footage taken by bystanders at the station to help prove their case. A case that is full of racial undertones that highlight the tensions between police and minority groups everywhere, what will be the ultimate outcome from the tragic meeting of Grant & Mehserle?

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