Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”     Thomas Sowell

January 14, 2009

Former Police Officer to Face Murder Charges in BART Shooting

by Stephen Littau

San Francisco Chronicle:

Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer arrested on suspicion of murdering an unarmed passenger on an Oakland train platform early New Year’s Day, waived extradition at a Nevada hearing and will be returned to Alameda County sometime today…

[…]

The ex-officer is being held in connection with the shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight.

[…]

The shooting, which was recorded by passengers in videos widely circulated on the Internet and television, prompted public outrage, and some viewers said that the shooting appeared to be an execution. Some city and community leaders have joined protesters in denouncing BART’s handling of the investigation.

The videos below show the shooting in question from two separate vantage points. The first video was taken from a passenger inside the train using a cell phone video camera.

WARNING: This video is disturbing.

This second video, also taken from a cell phone, was taken by someone who was on the platform at the time of the shooting. This perspective does a better job of giving some insight to the chaos surrounding the event. Unfortunately, the camera’s attention is taken by another person being arrested as Johannes Mehserle fatally shoots Oscar Grant.

While I understand that these videos only tell part of the story and that the police officer should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, I can’t for the life of my understand why he felt the need to draw his weapon and fire. Yes, the suspect was apparently resisting arrest but it appears that the officers had control of the situation and at no point does it appear that Grant presented any realistic threat warranting lethal force.

Some speculate that Mehserle intended to reach for his tazer but accidently reached for his sidearm. Even if this were the case, I have difficulty believing that this situation even warranted the use of a tazer.

Soon this case will be in the hands of a jury. Between these very disturbing videos and the number of witnesses just a few feet away, it certainly does not look too good for the former police officer.


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