Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle said in a letter released by his attorney today that he never intended to shoot unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III and he hopes to speak to Grant’s mother and girlfriend at some point.
Mehserle, 28, was convicted on Thursday of involuntary manslaughter and an enhancement for using a gun in connection with the shooting death of Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, at the Fruitvale station in Oakland shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009.
The shooting occurred after Mehserle and other BART officers responded to reports that there was a fight on a train.
Mehserle’s handwritten letter, which is dated July 4, is addressed to his lawyer, Michael Rains, and says, “Mike – please try to get this message to the public.”
Mehserle, who was charged with murder, said, “I don’t know what the jury in this case is going to decide, but I hope those who hate me and those who understand that I never intended to shoot Oscar Grant will listen to this message.”
He said, “I have and will continue to live every day of my life knowing that Mr. Grant should not have been shot. I know a daughter has lost a father and a mother has lost a son.”
The reference is to Grant’s 5-year-old daughter, Tatiana Grant, and his mother, Wanda Johnson.
Mehserle said, “It saddens me knowing that my actions cost Mr. Grant his life. No words can express how truly sorry I am.”
He said, “I hoped to talk to Ms. Johnson and Ms. Mesa (Sophina Mesa, Grant’s girlfriend and Tatiana’s mother) in the days following this terrible event, but death threats toward my newly-born son, my friends and my family resulted in no communication occurring.”
Mehserle said, “I hope the day will come when anger will give way to a dialogue.”
He said, “For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming ‘You shot me’ and me putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him ‘You’ll be okay.'”
Mehserle said, “I tried to tell myself that maybe this shot would not be so serious, but I recall how sick I felt when Mr. Grant stopped talking and closed his eyes and seemed to change his breathing.”
He said, “I don’t expect that I can ever convince some individuals how sorry I am for the death of Mr. Grant, but I would not feel right if I didn’t explain my thoughts as I wait for a decision by the jury.”
Rains hasn’t returned phone messages and hasn’t commented on the verdict against Mehserle so far.
An e-mail message from Harry Stern, an attorney in Rains’ law firm, says Rains “will be available for comment in the near future.”