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Mehserle/Oscar Grant Verdict: Involuntary Manslaughter – UPDATED

July 8th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon


The verdict was reached at around 3:15 p.m.
It was announced in LA at around 4:05 p.m.

In this particular instance, Involuntary Manslaughter will mean a sentence of 2-4 years. However, since the jury also found in favor of a gun “enhancement”—meaning a sentencing add on for the use of the gun in the crime—Mehserle will likely do more–specifically as much as 5-14 years.

Mehserle has been taken into custody. (He was free on a $3 million bail.) He will be sentenced on August 6.

A rally and news conference regarding LA residents’ reactions
is taking place at Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue in Leimert Park.

People are gathering in downtown Oakland.

5:15 p.m.—around 500 people gathering at 14th and Broadway in Oakland. (Live blogging here.)


UPDATE: Jack Leonard and Maria LaGanga’s summary of the case and the verdict is both sober minded, informative and insightful.

And here, from the San Jose Mercury News, is a good account of the largely peaceful demonstrations in Oakland—and the problems.


INTERESTINGLY THE RUMOR OF A PROP 8 VERDICT….

….is also drawing crowds, reports the LA Times.

Posted in crime and punishment, criminal justice | 23 Comments »

23 Responses

  1. Rocky G Says:

    Great. Now bad cops know that they can kill someone, and all they have to do is say they were reaching for their taser. Goodbye freedom. Hello police state.

  2. Rocky G Says:

    I don’t blame people in Oakland for not rioting. There’s thousands of cops on the streets tonight that all forgot which side they put their taser on.

  3. Mark Says:

    This was a tough case. The so-called victim did not deserve to die, but did very little to diffuse an unnecessary and totally racial-charged confrontation. It must be very disheartening for police officers to have to deal with this sort of ‘in your face’ reverse racism, and in the heat of the moment, the cop made a mistake, and a totally worthless individual was transformed into some sort of civil rights hero, rather like Rodney King.

    It is sad that a certain section of society cannot seem to grow up and get with the program. What we have here, is a failure to communicate, and judging by the looks of the pack of protesters outside the Criminal Courts Building awaiting the verdict, they were looking for any excuse to riot.

    Thankfully, LAPD did a better job of controlling these idiots than Oakland, who appeared to basically allow them to have their riot time.

    If there is an upside to all of this, it is that the police officer was convicted of the least culpable of the charges, and most likely will be sentenced to probation rather than prison as this is his first offense – it’s basically the same break that all criminals get. He probably will get time served; a couple of months. Thankfully, the Los Angeles court will not have to worry about the second riot at sentencing because that will be Oakland’s problem, and hopefully the Oalkland police will have learned a lesson from todays riot.

  4. reg Says:

    “so called victim…a totally worthless individual” – Thanks, “Mark”, for showing us your ugly ass. Yeah, when the homicidal Mehserle’s partner, Officer Tony Pirone shouted “Bitch-ass nigger” at a prone Grant down on the pavement in police custody, as documented in the cell-phone videos, Grant should have done more to defuse the racially charged situation. It’s disheartening for racist cops when “bitch-ass niggers” aren’t more respectful and become agitated or react angrily to aggressive humiliation.

    I’d like to see Mehserle do something close to the 12, but it’s not gonna happen. There needs to be a statement that this was completely out of bounds and a punishable offense – not tolerable as a “mistake.” I don’t know that Mehserle intended to pull his gun, but if I were drunk and killed someone with my car, I’m sure it would not be intentional. Mehserle held a public trust and he trashed it with his incompetence and gross negligence. He couldn’t handle his job under even mildly stressful situation. This incident at the BART station was not a big deal, in terms of any danger to officers. They completely had the upper hand. Killing someone needlessly, when you’ve got a badge and a gun, isn’t on the list of understandable “mistakes.” Police officers need to be held to a high standard or respect for law and order totally breaks down. If there had been no video, there wouldn’t have even been a trial because the cops would have covered for their own, even if he was a killer. That’s part of the “blue” culture and the pathological code of internal pressure against breaking ranks and bringing dirty or incompetent cops to justice. A tough sentence – even under the involuntary manslaughter conviction – is the least that can be done to save a rotten police culture that breeds contempt from itself.

    As for the riots, everything was peaceful until some dozens of agitators followed their own script. That group was a fraction of the demonstration. I hope they get the book thrown at them as well. They dishonored the Grant family and, frankly, I doubt most of these “actviists” even live in Oakland.

  5. reg Says:

    One more thing – these were not even close to major riots a la Rodney King – even though the offense was worse. A few store windows were broken. Pretty minimal property damage in the context of “riots.” This all took place on a street downtown – not in the neighborhoods. The “rioters” were folks who show up whenever there’s an opportunity to incite violence at a demonstration – complete with black masks. The comment above about LA cops handling riots better than Oakland is laughable. By my count they cause riots more than the Oakland police and not just some broken windows. Mehserle wasn’t an Oakland cop, BTW – BART is it’s own “district” with it’s own cops. They’re not an impressive bunch, and that’s part of the problem here. This goober Mehserle went to the “Napa Valley Community College Police Academy.” I’m not kidding.

  6. reg Says:

    From the morning Chron:

    Officials said the main instigators appeared to be organized “anarchist” agitators wearing black clothing and hoods. Many of the most aggressive demonstrators smashing the windows of banks and shops were white.

  7. al Says:

    “I’d like to see Mehserle do something close to the 12, but it’s not gonna happen.”

    I hope so too, but I’ll keep the faith in the Judge giving him a fair sentence. Also keep in mind that wherever he goes to prison, he’ll be a marked man. The hard core lifers will be drawing lots to see who can get to him first.

  8. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Reg, it doesn’t sound like what happened in Oakland was any worse than what happened after the Lakers win. A few idiots made mischief. Most everyone else was peaceful and honorable. In both cases the cops handled it.

    I too hope that Mehserle gets the high term for all the reasons you outline.

  9. WTF Says:

    Great. Now bad cops know that they can kill someone, and all they have to do is say they were reaching for their taser. Goodbye freedom. Hello police state.

    *********************************

    I would like to see the “proof” of an upcoming police state. There are those who already compare cops to Nazis, one of them was already banned from this site.

  10. sbl Says:

    “By my count they (LAPD) cause riots more than the Oakland police and not just some broken windows” reg says. Don’t know what you’re talking about – not the last decade’s LAPD anyway, since Bratton came on board. Though I know you’re reacting to a barb that the Oakland police “allow them to have their riot time,” a dumb remark. Hate to compare “who’s the worst” when it comes to recent riots, but I guess this Oakland riot was on a par in terms of damage with the recent Lakers riot celebrating “victory:” too bad that wasn’t nipped totally in the bud (“Pajamas Media” as linked on PPL blog blames a strategy that didn’t put enough small, mobile task forces at the ready), but it was hardly “caused” by LAPD.

    It was a tough case – too bad Pirone’s off scot-free, he sounds too unstable to be trusted with such a life-and-death responsibility and should be removed from street duty at the least. He definitely created or at least exacerbated a tense, racially-charged situation. I suspect he’d be disciplined or removed if he were with LAPD. Involuntary manslaughter can’t feel like justice to the victim’s family, yet it wasn’t murder, the circumstances indicate it wasn’t premeditated.

  11. sbl Says:

    reg is certainly right that the rioters “dishonored the Grant family,” the photos in the local paper showed black youths robbing a Foot Locker, as though stealing shoes has anything to do with justice, it’s just opportunism. How many “professional anarchists and troublemakers” of all races were there, isn’t clear. As with the Lakers, it wasn’t “fans” who rioted but gangbangers looking for an excuse – the burglaries had nothing to do with the family or the issue, I’m sure. One of Grant’s uncles here at the L A protest writes them off as irrelevant to the family or the issue of injustice.

    There are no doubt legit protesters who believe it was justice denied, and in L A some pretested peacefully. But unfortunately every gathering is infiltrated by “professional agitators” who know how to provoke the cops into looking like the aggressors: like the May Day Melee in 07 in L A, which LAPD hardly “caused” but we’ve paid out some $13 million in class-action suits plus another $1.7 million last week for one Fox 11 camera operator and misc. smaller awards.

    As for Mehserle himself, there’s no evidence he personally acted with any racial motivation, just panicked out of poor training and the circumstances aggravated by his partner.
    As for being a community college cop: we have a City Attorney whose degree is from a defunct, short-lived night law school in Carson (an industrial town hardly associated with institutions of higher learning), an improbably named “South Bay University College of Law,” given the location – and it just might be part of the reasons for his erratic understanding of the law now that his actions are under greater scrutiny. The higher the job, the more education counts – so less so for Mehserle. While Mehserle’s education may be unimpressive, his lack of prep seems more to do with the second-rate training of BART and transit cops in general, which we’ve discussed earlier. (Though here in LA grave problems persist on the MTA despite the Transit cops being taken over by the County Sheriff’s dept. — not LAPD — a decade ago, and at least one case last year, an “accidental killing,” was covered up.)

  12. sbl Says:

    BTW I’m making a totally NEW comment but the comment filter says “you already said that,” will try again…maybe cuz I mentioned a certain commenter’s name? So I’ll remove it.

    “r” is certainly right that the rioters “dishonored the Grant family,” the photos in the local paper showed black youths robbing a Foot Locker, as though stealing shoes has anything to do with justice, it’s just opportunism. How many “professional anarchists and troublemakers” of all races were there, isn’t clear. As with the Lakers, it wasn’t “fans” who rioted but gangbangers looking for an excuse – the burglaries had nothing to do with the family or the issue, I’m sure. One of Grant’s uncles here at the L A protest writes them off as irrelevant to the family or the issue of injustice.

    There are no doubt legit protesters who believe it was justice denied, and in L A some pretested peacefully. But unfortunately every gathering is infiltrated by “professional agitators” who know how to provoke the cops into looking like the aggressors: like the May Day Melee in 07 in L A, which LAPD hardly “caused” but we’ve paid out some $13 million in class-action suits plus another $1.7 million last week for one Fox 11 camera operator and misc. smaller awards.

    As for Mehserle himself, there’s no evidence he personally acted with any racial motivation, just panicked out of poor training and the circumstances aggravated by his partner.
    As for being a community college cop: we have a City Attorney whose degree is from a defunct, short-lived night law school in Carson (an industrial town hardly associated with institutions of higher learning), an improbably named “South Bay University College of Law,” given the location – and it just might be part of the reasons for his erratic understanding of the law now that his actions are under greater scrutiny. The higher the job, the more education counts – so less so for Mehserle. While Mehserle’s education may be unimpressive, his lack of prep seems more to do with the second-rate training of BART and transit cops in general, which we’ve discussed earlier. (Though here in LA grave problems persist on the MTA despite the Transit cops being taken over by the County Sheriff’s dept. — not LAPD — a decade ago, and at least one case last year, an “accidental killing,” was covered up.)

  13. Rocky G Says:

    Riots….lol. Please. And I think the comparisons between the events yesterday and the Lakers celebration says it all. But it was funny watching the local t.v. stations run continuous loops of that jewelry store being looted. They were trying to do the “Breaking news” thing at 1 am last night..only problem? No “live” in the upper corner of the screen. They were running looped footage and making it seem live at 1 am. How pathetic. Shame on you, media. Nothing on the national cable news networks, either, and I mean CNN, CNN Headline, and MSNBC. I don’t watch FoxNews. Huge fail, northern california t.v. stations.

    I don’t condone what happened to those 4 cops in Oakland last summer in any way, but I really think that’s the new rioting. Just random cop shootings. Again, I do not condone it. Just analyzing. As police head into the 21st century, so does the hood, and I think we saw it with Lovelle Mixon last summer. As police gain more power and abuse it, unfortunately we’re going to see poorer and darker citizens (who tend to be the victims of abusive police) take matters into their own hands. My solution is oversight of law enforcement, more things like consent decrees, and a much more aggressive and thorough approach to these things. Proactive approaches to applying checks and balances into this new age of aggressive policing. But I’m afraid the poor have other plans.

  14. Mark Says:

    sbl – comparing City Attorney Trutanich’s law degree to that of community college cop is not a fair comparison. Regardless of where Trutanich studied law, the fact is he had to sit and pass the very same California Bar Exam as those liberal leviathans that you people worship, you know those legal geniuses like Rocky Delgadillo, Jack Weiss, and Mike Feuer – all Democrats. Of course you can poh-poh the Bar Exam and tell us that it’s the law school that counts, and therefore Trutanich is intellectually deficient because unlike that other democrat legal leviathan, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who went to UCLA) Trutanich passed the Bar, while Tony Villar failed miserably at least 4 times that he will admit to, and more likely 6 times that most everyone else believes to be the truth. So your chicken s**t point about Trutanich’s law school is what? Trutanich didn’t pass the same Bar Exam as all your liberal democrat icons? Or is it that you are incensed at the idea that Trutanich can pass the Bar, but phony baloney Tony cannot?
    Let’s not forget that is was most likely thanks to Trutanich’s new Bureau of Investigations (which has about 200 City Attorney Investigators) that there was no riot in Los Angeles. Trutanich knows how to control these people and at least give him credit for using his street smarts to quietly lock up the trouble makers and ship them back to Oakland.
    I think Trutanich gets a lot of negative press only because he’s an independent who knows how to do his job, not a democrat full of platitudes and zero world experience.

  15. Celeste Fremon Says:

    “Let’s not forget that is was most likely thanks to Trutanich’s new Bureau of Investigations (which has about 200 City Attorney Investigators) that there was no riot in Los Angeles.”

    That’s a genuinely hilarious statement.

    “Trutanich knows how to control these people and at least give him credit for using his street smarts to quietly lock up the trouble makers and ship them back to Oakland.

    Um….” these people”….?

    Also, I was not aware that the City Attorney was in the people shipping business.

    Cool. Was this by boat, plane or rail? Or did he just truck ‘em north in flatbeds. I’d love to know the details.

  16. Rocky G Says:

    Mark Says:
    July 9th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    …at least give him (Trutanich) credit for using his street smarts to quietly lock up the trouble makers and ship them back to Oakland.

    ………….

    Are you talking about rioters or cops?

  17. Mark Says:

    It’s no big secret, the Oakland trouble makers were seen in plain view strutting around outside the Criminal Courts Building wearing their pathetic hoodies and trying to look intimidating.

    Department resources were probably used to ID them, and discover wants and warrants. That would have allowed arrest teams to detain them when they left the area. It seems that someone had the brains to figure out that it was better not to detain them at the Courthouse, but to be patient and wait until they could be picked off quietly as they left the area. Very clever. Zero riots in LA. Thanks Nooch.

  18. Rocky G Says:

    Should we tell Mark that there were never going to be riots, and the people arrested were either peaceful protesters or random people around the area who had nothing to do with anything? Nah. I don’t want to ruin his Dragnet fantasy.

  19. reg Says:

    sbl – I was referring, sarcastically, to the Rodney King riots – in response to a stupid ass comment about the OPD from this character SureFire…uh…I mean “Mark.”

  20. reg Says:

    Also “sbl” – we don’t have anything close to the gang problem in Oakland that you have down south, so “gangbangers” weren’t the problem in the mass peaceful protest degenerating into a relatively small bunch bent on breaking windows. Observers on the scene have, pretty unanimously, attributed the provocations to a bunch of “activists” of anarchist and maoist persuasions who show up equipped to do this. Foolish and “troublemaker” kids get caught up in the frenzy and the opportunity deliberately created for looting – also part of the “strategy” – but this wasn’t a crowd gone “out of control” but a planned action by deliberate provocateurs with an agenda. The OPD handled this reasonably well – frankly these are “no-wins” for cops, because on the one hand they can make things worse by over-reaction, or they can not move quickly enough to isolate trouble-makers. They did a pretty decent job. “Mark” has his head up his butt.

  21. sbl Says:

    I heard on the radio this morning (KPCC I think) that the feds would be investigating this case from the point of view of making sure no civil rights violations occurred during the botched arrest and tragic shooting. However, the host (sorry I was groggy and didn’t catch whose show, sometime in the 9 a.m. hour) interviewed a guest who’s a law prof at USC, who confirmed that there was no evidence during the trial that Mehserle’s actions were pre-meditated in any way or that he himself used racial epithets or was motivated by race – but his partner’s actions and the sensitive nature of the case require a full investigation. I think that’s a very good thing – Pirone shouldn’t be on the streets in uniform, he sounds like he has major anger management and racist issues. How someone like that can work for BART police is worrisome.

    Maybe he should apply for a job with Trutanich instead. As Mark says, “Trutanich knows how to control these people” because he also uses “his street smarts” (instead of the niceties of the law, which can be such a pain and waste of time) “to quietly (quietly would be secretly of course, like with his army of secret investigators, too bad he didn’t get his even more secret personal private Grand Jury before the state Assembly finally woke up to the plot; now his 200-person secret army has to try to find “these people” — as well as get dirt on his ostensible clients, the entire list of officials at City Hall, without their illegal Grand Jury) lock up these troublemakers and ship them back to Oakland.” (Yes, Celeste, I too would like more details on this “quiet” but clearly very effective, shipping business.)

    Just another reason (out of too many to list, where to start, his meager legal education being perhaps the least of them) that this guy should not be in his job. Because it’s the job of the City Attorney to make sure that even “these people,” the ones without power or connections, are treated fairly by the cops and are accorded the full protections of the law. EVEN IF you personally still think and speak in the openly racist terms of the 50′s John Birch society, as do his acolytes and apparent soulmates SureFire and Mark (and David, etc.). And THEN, to deal with them transparently and openly, not “quietly” with secret investigators and grand juries and even shipping associates.

  22. Rocky G Says:

    Mark isn’t Sure Fire. Mark knows who he is. He’s just letting the coppers know that he does not check in with the ACLU to figure out who the bad guys are. You can put that in your hat…

    I don’t think SF was banned, was he? I think he said his wife told him he’s spending too much time on here. We have no reason not to believe that.

  23. Celeste Fremon Says:

    No, Sure Fire wasn’t banned at all.

    We’ve chatted on the side and he’s simply attempting to step back from blog commenting in general in order to work on some other things. We all understand that blog commenting can be a seductive time eater if one isn’t careful.

    And quite right, Rocky, Mark assuredly isn’t Sure Fire. (Hi Mark.) I don’t agree with Mark on many his POVs of the city attorney, yet it’s great to have another perspective.

    Now I’m going to wrench my own self away from the keyboard and go see a play—The Lieutenant of Inishmore which is in previews at the Mark Taper.

    I hear it’s fabulous. But I’ll come back with a report.

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