Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III, will be released from jail on Monday, Grant’s uncle said today.
Cephus Johnson said state officials notified Grant’s family of Mehserle’s release date.
However, Luis Patino, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said he can’t confirm the release date for Mehserle and can only say that Mehserle will be released sometime in mid-June.
Patino said the department’s policy is to withhold the release date for inmates in order to protect “the safety of the public, staff members and inmates.”
Mehserle, 29, shot and killed Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, at BART’s Fruitvale station in Oakland around 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009, after Mehserle and other BART officers responded to reports of a fight on a train.
Mehserle admitted that he shot and killed Grant but said he had meant to use his Taser stun gun on Grant and fired his service gun by mistake.
Alameda County prosecutors sought to have Mehserle convicted of second-degree murder, but in a verdict on July 8 that sparked a large protest in downtown Oakland, jurors only convicted Mehserle of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years. He was given credit for time served in jail before his conviction.
He has been held at the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail since his conviction.
Johnson said he doesn’t know what time Mehserle will be released.
He said it could be anytime after 12:01 a.m.
Johnson said he and other family members will be in Los Angeles for rallies on Saturday and Sunday.
He said Grant’s family and activists will go to Los Angeles County Superior Court at 8:30 a.m. on Monday because Mehserle is scheduled to have a hearing there at that time.
However, Johnson said Grant’s family hasn’t received any confirmation that a hearing will actually be held then.
He said that after family members and activists leave the Los Angeles courthouse on Monday, they will march to a nearby U.S. Department of Justice office to demand that Mehserle be prosecuted in the federal court system.
Cat Brooks, of the ONYX Organizing Committee, said today that a coalition of groups opposed to Mehserle’s release will hold a demonstration at the Fruitvale BART station at 3 p.m. Sunday and then march to the corner of 14th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News