The Bay area transit officer convicted of killing Oscar Grant will go free on Monday after serving less than a year in jail.

Johannes Mehserle, a white former Bay Area Rapid Transit cop was convicted last July for the shooting of Oscar Grant, a black unarmed man on an Oakland train station platform on New Year’s Day 2009. The incident was captured on video by onlookers and quickly uploaded onto YouTube, where it was watched by thousands of viewers online.   In the clip, Mehserle is seen shooting Grant in the back with his firearm while Grant lay face down on the ground. According to police reports, Grant had allegedly been pulled off the train for fighting.

During a tearful testimony at his trial, Mehserle said that he had simply been arresting Grant for resisting an officer, claiming he thought he had pulled his stun gun to subdue Grant and mistakenly pulled his .40-caliber pistol instead.

The case sparked outrage in Oakland and throughout the country as many felt Oscar Grant’s unjust killing was another example of police using their authority to inflict brutality. The trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles in December of 2009 after a local judge ruled that “pretrial publicity and the threat of violence” would make it impossible for Mehserle to have a fair trial. None of the jurors chosen to hear the trial were black.

Given his mistaken weapon use defense, jurors in Los Angeles convicted Mehserle of criminal negligence instead of murder. He was sentenced to two years for involuntary manslaughter sparking riots and protests. In the hours following the announcement of the verdict, more than 150 people protesting Oscar Grant’s wrongful death were arrested in Oakland, the city which has struggled with racial tensions running decades back.

Now, the Alameda County District Attorney’s office has confirmed that Mehserle has been granted early release for good conduct. Oscar Grant’s uncle, Bobby Johnson, says that he was notified that the man who killed his nephew will be released on Monday. He says that the news has added insult to injury for his grieving family and the community:

“What really hurts is that we are just expected to get on with our lives. How can we?” Johnson said. “We’ve been dealt with a racist criminal justice system that has denied our true rights to justice…This whole thing was staged. It was planned. It was acted out. It has brought this type of conclusion.”

It is unclear where Mehserle will head after he leaves prison, but Oakland and Los Angeles police say they are preparing for protestors to take the streets following his release. Many who have followed the case say that Mehserle’s early release may spark a wave of unrest from the community that has not healed or forgotten last fall.

When asked what he expects the reaction to be to Mehserle’s early release, Grant’s uncle Johnson says he hopes that protestors will express themselves and stick together:

“I hope what happens is that we stand together, share our experiences and speak to the injustices that occur in our communities. Voices can be heard when there’s unity.”

What do you think of Mehserle’s early release from prison after shooting Oscar Grant? Do you think it’s fair he served less than a year for taking a man’s life? Tell us what you think Clutchettes and gents- weigh in!


  1. Charlay King

    The case was distorted but the past is the past…how can we want respect but don’t respect ourselves as a group. I was born and raised in Oakland blacks killing blacks everyday, Also the level of respect in my generation and in the bay area at that is the WORST…Someone asked me how come I didn’t protest about Oscar Grant b/c coming to the defense of people just b/c and not weighting every aspect is a waste. I know how young men are these days and how my generation is being mislead…my dad handled a similar situation just fine b/c his coach told him how to handle this situation the smart way “keep your mouth shut” until spoken to and give them your name and address and handle your friends later…my dads still alive by the way. My frustration is I can’t defend ppl just b/c I’m black, if they said Oscar Grant was a college student or was mentoring city youth then I can vouch…but no more defending just b/c of my race

  2. Clnmike

    You know people need to get off this ‘well black people kill each other so were is the outrage there’ BS. Yes black people kill each other in greater numbers than cops, just like whites kill whites in greater numbers, just like hispanics, just like any other ethnic group enclosed in their own community. The difference is that the people who are paid by us to protect us should not be the ones doing the murder or else why the hell do they exist? It doesn’t matter what this man’s background was, here is a man who was subdued laying prone on the ground being shot in the back by an officer whose job is to up hold the law. It doesn’t matter if the cop was “mistakenly thought he pulled his taser” why taser someone who is already secured? And than trhis rich little thinking that if Oscar was a productive member of society I could feel for him. Really? You think the cops give a rats ass if your a productive/role model/ saint? You think there going to say “…….excuse me sir before I put this bullet in your ass are you of the Obama breed of nigger or the 50 cent type? I’d hate to make a mistake here.”. Like some how that couldn’t be you laying down there. Many a foolish negro got tuned up thinking that way. You let them do it to him they will do it to you Mr./Ms. Magoo.

  3. SoulPatrol

    I’ve been an AA police officer for over 25 years, working in an area that’s 98% white. I’ve made thousands of traffic stops and arrests of young white kids. They abruptly reach under their seats, unexpectedly open the glove box, reach into their pockets, get out of the car and walk toward me (at night) without being asked to, mouth off and argue about the traffic stop, etc., etc., etc. I’VE NEVER SHOT ANY OF THEM, and they were NOT handcuffed!!!!

    Enough said.

    As for some of the people on this thread who want to make parallels to black on black crime, you’re comparing apples to oranges. B on B crime is committed by known CRIMINALS. A law enforcement officer is not “supposed” to engage in criminal acts. They’re supposed to uphold the law and protect the people they serve. No segment of the public should have to fear the very people whose salaries they pay to protect them. When a police officer violates the law in such an act of gross misconduct, he’s worse than the common criminal. We “expect” criminals to commit crimes. We don’t expect cops to.

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