Jury reaches verdict in case of transit worker charged in killing at Calif. train station

By Greg Risling, AP
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jury reaches verdict in CA transit shooting trial

LOS ANGELES — A jury reached a verdict Thursday in the trial of a former San Francisco Bay area transit officer accused of murdering an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform.

The eight-woman, four-man panel is scheduled to read the verdict at 4 p.m. PDT Thursday after deliberating for more than six hours over two days.

Former officer Johannes Mehserle, who is white, has pleaded not guilty in the shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant when officers responded to a fight aboard a train that arrived at the Fruitvale station.

Mehserle claimed he mistakenly pulled his handgun instead of a Taser during the incident on New Year’s Day 2009 that was videotaped by bystanders.

The trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles because of racial tensions and intense media coverage.

Police in Oakland expected protests after the verdict and prepared by getting crowd-control training and working 12-hour shifts. A group of activists planned a rally outside City Hall.

None of the jurors listed their race as black. Seven said they were white, three were Latino, and one was Asian-Pacific. One declined to state their race.

The verdict followed a three-week trial in which prosecutors played videos by bystanders, and witnesses recounted hearing the frightening gunshot that killed Grant.

Mehserle, 28, testified that he struggled with Grant and saw him digging in his pocket. Fearing Grant might have a weapon, Mehserle said he decided to shock Grant with his Taser but pulled his .40-caliber handgun instead.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Stein said in his closing argument that Mehserle let his emotions get the better of him and intended to shoot Grant with the handgun without justification.

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