Top News Story! Shots fired!
July 2, 2010
He's Gotta' Gun!
He's Gotta' Gun!
June 29, 2010
BERKELEY, CA— A hit-and-run suspect was shot and killed after aiming a gun at Berkeley officers following a late-night chase, police said. About 10:45 p.m., Berkeley police got a call from Albany officers reporting that they were pursuing a silver four-door Honda into the city, police said. The driver was suspected of a hit-and-run in Albany.
The car chase ended when the suspect stopped at Eighth and Jones streets, where he got out and ran two blocks to Camelia Street, police said. By this point Berkeley police had surrounded the area, and two of its officers caught up with the suspect. At the intersection of Eighth and Camelia streets, the suspect "posed a significant threat" to officers, who opened ire and killed him, police said. They later confirmed that the suspect pointed a gun at the officers. Police said about a dozen shots were fired. The suspect, whom police are still trying to identify, was pronounced dead at the scene. His vehicle showed significant front-end damage.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave while Berkeley police and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office investigate the incident, which is routine in officer-involved shootings. Albany police deferred to Berkeley police for details about the hit-and-run that sparked the initial chase. Those details were not immediately available.
• Lying is the Norm (SFPD)! - Part IV (Draft - Coming Soon!)
• Lying is the Norm! - Part III
• From Top-to-Bottom: Lying is the Norm! - Part II
• Police Cover-Ups: Lying is the Norm!
June 28, 2010
Oakland police stage a multi-agency crowd control training session near the sewage treatment treatment plant in Oakland, Calif. Friday June 18, 2010. The training was held in anticipation of [a NOT GUILTY VERDICT] as the Johannes Mehserle BART shooting trial moves toward a verdict. (ISBA Staff)
Los Angeles: Justice, Race,
Jury Selection & The Verdict!
Jury Selection & The Verdict!
April 29, 1992
While driving down the 210 freeway in Los Angeles with two friends, Rodney King was detected speeding by the California Highway Patrol. Fearing that his probation for a robbery offense would be revoked because of the traffic violation, King led the CHP on a high-speed chase, eventually hitting 115 miles per hour, according to the police. By the time he was caught and ordered to exit his vehicle, several L.A.P.D. squad cars had arrived on the scene. A struggle ensued, and some of the officers quickly decided that King was resisting arrest. Sergeant Stacey Koon fired two shots into King with a TASER gun, and after that failed to subdue him, the officers, including Laurence Powell, beat him mercilessly with their batons.
The footage showed LAPD officers repeatedly striking King with their batons while other officers stand to watch without an action of stopping the brutal beating. A portion of this footage was aired by news agencies around the world, causing public outrage that raised tensions between the black community and the LAPD and increased anger over police brutality and social inequalities in Los Angeles.
He suffered a fractured facial bone, and a broken right ankle, and numerous bruises and lacerations. In a negligence claim filed with the City, King alleged he had suffered "11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken [bones and teeth], kidney damage [and] emotional and physical trauma." At Pacifica Hospital, where King was taken for initial treatment, nurses reported that the officers who accompanied King (including Wind) openly joked and bragged about the number of times King had been hit.
The jury consisted of Ventura County residents—ten white, one Latino and one Asian. Once the four officers accused in the beating were acquitted by a predominantly white jury in the majority white suburb of Simi Valley, all that rage turned into the worst single episode of urban unrest in American history, which erupted on April 29, 1992. By the time the police, the U.S. Army, the Marines and the National Guard restored order, the casualties included 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damages to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses. Smaller riots occurred in other cities such as Las Vegas and Atlanta.
After the riots, the United States Department of Justice reinstated investigation and obtained an indictment of violations of federal civil rights against the four officers. The federal trial focused more on the evidence as to the training of officers instead of just relying on the videotape of the incident. The jury found Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon guilty, and they were subsequently sentenced to 30 months in prison, while Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno were acquitted of all charges.
Equal Justice, Race & Jury Selection
June 21, 2010
"[A]ssertions about intelligence are "one of the most troubling but persistent reasons" given to dismiss potential jurors who are black. Many of those potential jurors are college graduates[.] The culture has tolerated this all-white jury, white prosecutor, white judge phenomenon, because that's what people have seen for decades."
- Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative
Twenty-five years ago, Earl Jerome McGahee was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend. McGahee, an African-American, was tried by an all-white jury in an Alabama county that was more than 55 percent black. The district attorney dismissed every one of the 24 blacks who qualified to serve on the jury, including Edith Ferguson, who had worked for the Selma, Ala., Police Department for many years. The reason cited for striking Ferguson from being a juror: "low intelligence." Last year, McGahee was granted a new trial because of the racially discriminatory jury selection in his original case. But many defendants are not so lucky.
Study Documents 'Widespread Discrimination'
Bryan Stevenson of the nonprofit group Equal Justice Initiative tells NPR's Guy Raz that assertions about intelligence are "one of the most troubling but persistent reasons" given to dismiss potential jurors who are black. Many of those potential jurors are college graduates, Stevenson says.
In a new study, Stevenson's group details "widespread discrimination" in the selection of jurors across the Deep South. He says it's been illegal to exclude people from jury service on the basis of race since 1875. But prosecutors can give any reason they want for dismissing a juror, and it's rarely challenged. Stevenson found that serious criminal cases and death penalty cases are even more prone to have discriminatory jury selection than other types of cases.
We've had African-American jurors excluded because they're too old at 43, because they're too young at 28, while other white jurors much older are being accepted, and other white jurors much younger are being accepted.
The study looked at eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and South Carolina. In some counties, 80 percent of the African-Americans who had qualified for jury service were excluded. "The evidence of racial bias that we focus on is evidence that's pretty obvious," said Stevenson. "It tends not to be unintentional. ... We've had African-American jurors excluded because they're too old at 43, because they're too young at 28, while other white jurors much older are being accepted, and other white jurors much younger are being accepted. ... We've had jurors excluded because they were in an interracial marriage or had a biracial son. "It is a violation of the law," says Stevenson, "but it is an area of the law where there has been almost no enforcement."
A Sense Of Humiliation
For some of the people he spoke to, Stevenson says, state courts found they had been illegally excluded from juries on the basis of race. He says many felt humiliated, knowing that the assertions against them were false and demeaning. Stevenson says the problem could be fixed if laws on the books were enforced. He says prosecutors should report on jury diversity, and that trial and appellate courts should more rigorously enforce laws from state and federal statutes and Supreme Court rulings through sanctions and fines. But he admits that the habit will be hard to break.
The People of the State of California Johannes Mehserle
C.J. Note: We note that Johannes Mehserle immigrated from (former Nazi) Germany at the age of two (2) years, then resided in the White, Racist enclave of Napa, California (wine-country) up until the time he murdered Oscar Grant, an African-American citizen of the United States. Shame on every Black police Officer that contributed to Mehserle's $3,000,000.00 bail!
Closing Arguments & Deliberations!
July 2, 2010
LOS ANGELES (4:00 p.m. PDT) – Police in Oakland underwent crowd-control training and were put on 12-hour shifts as they awaited a verdict Friday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man by a white transit police officer who claimed he mistakenly drew his gun instead of his Taser. A jury in Los Angeles began deliberating the case against Johannes Mehserle after hearing closing arguments and instructions. After a brief recess, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry instructed jurors for about 40 minutes — outlining the four possible conclusions they may come to: a conviction on second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter or an acquittal.
Jurors deliberated until 4 p.m. today before parting for a three-day weekend. They will reconvene Tuesday morning.
11:30 a.m. PDT — Closing arguments on both sides in the Johannes Mehserle murder trial are now complete. Judge Robert Perry will instruct jurors and the court will break for lunch. Deliberations will start this afternoon.
10:30 a.m. PDT - Johannes Mehserle's attorney Michael Rains ended his closing arguments minutes ago saying to the jury they were his client's "last shot at justice," and reminding them they must acquit him unless convinced beyond a reasonable doubt a crime was committed. The prosecution has begun its rebuttal. Check back for a complete story on the morning's proceedings.
July 1, 2010
"It can never be lawful to shoot an unarmed man when that unarmed man is lying facedown in the process of attempting to place his arms behind his back[.] In this case, the defendant's desire to punish, his desire to mistreat, his desire to belittle Mr. Grant resulted in the death of an innocent person, and for that he must be held liable."
-- Deputy district attorney David Stein in closing arguments Thursday, July 1, 2010
LOS ANGELES, CA — The jury deciding Johannes Mehserle's fate will most likely begin deliberations on his murder case Friday (possibly Tuesday, July 6, 2010). [T]he prosecution and defense failed to complete closing arguments Thursday. Deputy district attorney David Stein will get the last chance to argue his case before the jury of seven women and five men are read instructions and sent to a backroom to decide if the former BART police officer is guilty of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter or not guilty of a crime in Oscar Grant III's shooting. The jury on Thursday heard Stein's initial arguments for why the evidence points to second-degree murder, and they heard most of defense attorney Michael Rains' arguments for why the evidence proves his 28-year-old client is innocent of any crime.
Stein deliver[ed] his two-hour-long address methodically explaining the law of murder to the jury and how evidence presented over the past month coincides with a verdict of second-degree murder. Rains, frequently raising his voice and gesturing widely, accused the Alameda County District Attorney's Office of conspiring to ensure the jury only learns facts of the case that support a guilty verdict. "You haven't been told the truth," Rains said. "You be cautious, you be careful about what (Stein) says, about what he does, about what he tells you." Rains accused the prosecution of attempting to "smear" Mehserle with the actions of Pirone, who, videos showed and witnesses said, constantly swore and used aggressive actions against Grant and his friends on Oakland's Fruitvale BART station platform. At one point, Rains showed a slide on the courtroom's large flat-screen televisions that read, "People v. Anthony Pirone (Johannes Mehserle)." On the slide, Pirone's name was crossed out. "It's really based on People v. Anthony Pirone," Rains said. "You heard it today; smear Johannes Mehserle with the acts of Tony Pirone."
Stein also focused on Mehserle's training but said the then-26-year-old officer failed to follow the skills he was taught and instead allowed his emotions to take over. Stein said there was simply no excuse for Mehserle to shoot an unarmed man in the back as he did early Jan. 1, 2009. "It can never be lawful to shoot an unarmed man when that unarmed man is lying facedown in the process of attempting to place his arms behind his back," Stein said. "That is the bottom line." Stein dismissed Mehserle's defense that he confused his gun for his Taser. Stein told the jury that evidence in the case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Mehserle wanted to use his gun to shoot Grant. "He lost all control, and that's why you are here," Stein said of Mehserle. "In this case, the defendant's desire to punish, his desire to mistreat, his desire to belittle Mr. Grant resulted in the death of an innocent person, and for that he must be held liable."
Murder One: Not Guilty!
July 1, 2010
"In ruling out first-degree murder, against the wishes of the prosecution, Perry said he saw no evidence that Mehserle acted with premeditation when he shot and killed train rider Oscar Grant on Jan. 1, 2009."
(07-01) 13:02 PDT LOS ANGELES -- Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle will not be convicted of first-degree murder, a judge declared Wednesday. Jurors in the trial of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle will be given the option of convicting him of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or nothing at all, a judge ruled today. The defense sought to take the manslaughter counts off the table, but Judge Robert Perry said the jury - which is scheduled to hear closing arguments Thursday - had enough evidence to consider them.
[T]he jury [will] have to find that Mehserle took the following actions to reach the following crimes:
• Second-degree murder: Mehserle knew the actions he was taking could cause a death but took those actions any way.
• Voluntary manslaughter: Mehserle acted in the heat of passion or Mehserle believed his life was in danger but used too much force in defending himself.
• Involuntary manslaughter: Mehserle committed an act that posed a high risk of death or great injury because of the way the act was committed. Or, Mehserle's actions could be found by a reasonable person to be reckless.
In making his decision, Perry said that even with a second-degree murder conviction, Mehserle would face a penalty of 40 years to life in prison because the Alameda County District Attorney's Office also charged the former officer with a gun enhancement.
That enhancement, purposely firing a gun during the commission of a murder, adds 25 years to the 15 years-to-life-in-prison sentence that accompanies a second-degree murder conviction. A first-degree murder conviction carries a 50 years-to-life prison sentence.
June 29, 2010
"Oscar's revenge: Mehserle's kid."
-- [G]raffiti [slogan] cropped up in more than 10 spots around [Oakland, California's] Lake Merritt over the weekend.
OAKLAND — Threatening graffiti cropped up in more than 10 spots around Lake Merritt over the weekend, calling for the death of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle just days before his legal defense rested in his murder trial. Mehserle shot Oscar Grant III on Jan. 1, 2009, as the 22-year-old Hayward man lay facedown on the Fruitvale BART station platform. Videos of the shooting, captured by train riders, spread quickly across the Internet, and protesters calling the shooting a "police execution" briefly rioted in Oakland twice in the ensuing weeks. Mehserle was put on trial in Los Angeles, and the final arguments in that murder trial are scheduled for late this week.
In 11 or more areas around the north end of Lake Merritt, red spray-painted graffiti appeared Saturday morning, with such messages as, "Mehserle must die too," "No justice, no peace," "L.A. better get it right or else," and, "Oscar's revenge: Mehserle's kid." At nearby St. Paul's Episcopal Church, "our altar guild team were the first ones who saw it," parish administrator Teresa Lindberg said. On the church's door was a message that read, "Where was Jesus for Oscar?" "Our junior warden came and tried to remove it," Lindberg said. "Unfortunately, it's damaged the doors, and we're going to have to have them taken down and repaired."
"We realized we weren't targeted or anything once we found out they went around the whole neighborhood," Lindberg said. "They tagged Fairyland and a bunch of other locations. We think it was someone with nothing better to do." The graffiti had been mostly cleaned off in several places today, with traces of the erased writing barely visible in the wood and cement where it had been painted. Oakland police did not report any new information on the case today.
The Defense Rests!
June 29, 2010
"'I thought he had a gun. I thought he had a gun.'"
-- Johannes Mehserle's friend and fellow Officer Terry Foreman testifying on behalf of Mehserle.
LOS ANGELES — The difference in weight between Johannes Mehserle's loaded gun and plastic Taser was the last piece of evidence a jury heard Tuesday as this racially charged murder trial neared its end.
Deputy district attorney David Stein displayed the two weapons to the jury and had his inspector explain the difference in weight. The loaded gun weighed 780 grams, or 1.7 pounds, more than the Taser.
The jury will have a day off today as Stein and defense attorney Michael Rains argue over jury instructions and a defense motion to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence. The jury will return Thursday for closing arguments and could begin deliberating the case Thursday afternoon or Friday.
Stein on Tuesday also called four BART police officers who spoke with Mehserle in the minutes, hours and days after he shot Oscar Grant III in the back as the 22-year-old Hayward man lay unarmed and facedown on the Fruitvale BART station platform in Oakland. Mehserle said last week during testimony he had made a mistake in shooting Grant by confusing his gun for his Taser. Mehserle said he wanted to use a Taser on Grant because he believed Grant was resisting arrest and reaching for a gun in his pocket. Grant did not have a gun. Stein asked three BART police officers who talked with Mehserle immediately after the shooting if the then-26-year-old officer ever mentioned he made a mistake. All three said no.
Stein also asked Mehserle's friend and fellow Officer Terry Foreman if Mehserle ever spoke with him about the shooting in the days that followed. Foreman, who was called by Mehserle for support after the shooting and who drove Mehserle home and days later to his attorney's office in Sacramento, said Mehserle never mentioned the shooting was an accident. "All of a sudden, he broke down and started crying," Foreman said, describing an exchange the two had during a trip back from Sacramento about a week after the shooting. "He said, 'I thought he had a gun. I thought he had a gun.' " Foreman said Mehserle made the same statement the night of the shooting.
Though all four of the officers said Mehserle did not tell them he made a mistake, under questioning from Rains they all said their colleague appeared "shocked," "scared," and "emotionally upset" after the shooting. Rains ended his case with testimony from a university professor, who discussed the mental aptitude of humans during stressful situations and with testimony from an Alameda County coroner who talked about the trajectory of the bullet that killed Grant. The coroner's testimony led to a break in court after his detailed explanations of Grant's wounds and cause of death sent Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, into loud sobs.
In the courtroom, Rains has attempted, through 11 witnesses including Mehserle, to convince a jury that Grant's shooting was a mistake based, in part, on BART's failure to train his client on the proper use of a Taser. Rains followed up Mehserle's emotional testimony last week with a police use-of-force and Taser expert who testified that Mehserle had the right to use a Taser on Grant and that the former officer's lack of Taser training probably contributed to the shooting. Another defense expert, William Lewinski, gave the jury a brief overview Tuesday of how the human mind works during stressful situations. Lewinski, a retired Minnesota State University professor, studies police reactions to situations and attempts to come up with theories about why police officers react as they do. Lewinski testified it is possible for police officers to get tunnel vision during stressful situations and block out sound and items in their peripheral vision.
Stein and Rains will argue over jury instructions today, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry will decide if the jury should consider murder and all of its lesser included crimes, such as manslaughter, as possible verdicts.
Closing Shot: The Defense!
June 28, 2010
"I think the Taser would be a good choice in that situation given everything that was going on," Meyer said. "My opinion is that (Grant) was physically resisting while Officers Mehserle and (Anthony) Pirone attempted to get him handcuffed."
-- Greg Meyer, a retired Los Angeles police captain who has testified in more 100 criminal and civil cases on police use-of-force issues, including the infamous Rodney King Trial of 1992.
LOS ANGELES — A police use-of-force and Taser expert hired by former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle's defense team told a jury today that the former officer had the right to use a Taser on Oscar Grant III (pictured left) early Jan. 1, 2009. Greg Meyer, a retired Los Angeles police captain who has testified in more 100 criminal and civil cases on police use-of-force issues, said Mehserle did not act with any unusual force when he tried to handcuff Grant in the seconds before Mehserle pulled out his gun and shot the 22-year-old Hayward man. Meyer said Grant appeared to be resisting arrest at the time and previously, so police had the right to arrest him.
For all his credentials and assurances on the witness stand about his opinions, Meyer's work on the case was picked apart by Deputy District Attorney David Stein, who at one point had Meyer admit that police officers did not initially have a reason to arrest Grant. "That would be kind of a cheap arrest," Meyer said of having Grant arrested because he stood up when he was told to sit down. Stein's cross-examination of Meyer also revealed that the expert reached his opinions on the case in March 2009 before a preliminary hearing was conducted and before BART conducted its own internal investigation into the shooting. Meyer admitted that he had not reviewed all the evidence in the case, even though his website states, "I've learned to not form opinions before reviewing all the evidence."
Stein also informed the jury that Meyer had worked on behalf of one of the Los Angeles police officers who beat Rodney King and that Meyer reached an opinion in that case that, based on Los Angeles Police Department policy, the officers did not use excessive force against King. Meyer's conclusion that Grant resisted arrest was challenged by Stein, who pointed out that Meyer did not consider key factors in making his findings. Meyer said he made his finding based on Mehserle's testimony that he was pulling on Grant's arm and videos that show Grant's right arm under his body. Stein asked if Meyer's opinion would change if he knew that Grant was pushed on top of someone's legs, had 500 pounds of force against his back and was yelling out that he could not breathe.
All three facts have been presented as evidence in the case, but Meyer said they did not change his opinion. Meyer said he rejected the prosecution's belief that Grant was not resisting arrest but rather had his arm trapped beneath him. "I rejected it. It doesn't wash," Meyer said. "It doesn't matter to me. The evidence, in my view, was that he was intentionally keeping his arm under his body."
See: The Johannes Mehserle Trial - 2010 - Part II
See: The Johannes Mehserle Trial - 2010
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Domestic Violence (Murder)!
Domestic Violence (Murder)!
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