LOS ANGELES — Protesters have gathered outside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse where a former Bay Area Rapid Transit Police officer charged with killing an unarmed man at an Oakland train station is scheduled to make his first appearance.
Dozens of demonstrators lined the street, awaiting the arrival of 27-year-old Johannes Mehserle, who was scheduled to attend a pretrial hearing. The protesters were being monitored by about two dozen Los Angeles police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Mehserle is charged with the murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on an BART station platform on New Year’s Day 2009.
Witnesses captured the shooting on cell phone video. Grant was in custody at the time of the incident and was shot in the back after being ordered to lie on his stomach.
Mehserle’s lawyer has said the officer mistakenly pulled out his Taser instead of his handgun.
An Alameda County judge ruled in October that Mehserle’s trial should be moved out of Oakland because of excessive media coverage and racial tensions.
One protester who traveled to Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay area told KTLA that they’re seeking justice not only for Grant, but for others like him across the nation.
“It’s not just an Oakland thing, it’s not just Oscar Grant. There have been many people killed in Los Angeles and in fact, police brutality is an epidemic across the country,” she said.
Mehserle has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Grant’s family is also expected to attend the hearing.
The trial is expected to begin in about six months.
Filed under: Civil Liberties, Prison Industrial Complex Tagged: | Alameda County, Bay Area Rapid Transit Police, Civil Liberties, civil rights, human rights, Johannes Mehserle, Oakland, Oscar Grant, police state, racism, taser