'Shocked, but not surprised' is the reaction of the Grant family.
The news is still developing, but former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle has been sentenced to 2 years in state prison. How much of that time he will spend behind bars is still unclear.
Mehserele was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after shooting handcuffed Oakland citizen Oscar Grant in a BART train station on New Year's Day of 2009.
The maximum that he could have served is 14 years (up to four for the manslaughter conviction, and up to 10 for the enhanced gun charge ):
The two sides had disagreed on what the jury signaled with its verdict. The defense said jurors showed they believed Mehserle's "taser confusion" story when they rejected murder and voluntary manslaughter, both of which require an intent to kill.
Prosecutors disagreed. They said jurors had found that Mehserle did not intend to kill Grant, but that he had meant to shoot him. The gun enhancement, prosecutors noted, required the panel to find that Mehserle had fired a gun on purpose.
From the AP:
Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother, cried as she gave a victim impact statement.
"I live every day of my life in pain," she said. "My son is not here because of a careless action."
The family continues to maintain that it was murder when Mehserle shot Grant on an Oakland train platform on New Year's Day 2009. Mehserle was a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer responding to a report of a fight.
Mehserle, shackled and wearing a jail jumpsuit, also stood before the judge and apologized for the shooting, which he contended was accidental and not racially motivated.
"I want to say how deeply sorry I am," Mehserle said. "Nothing I ever say or do will heal the wound. I will always be sorry for taking Mr. Grant from them."
He also cried during portions of his 10-minute statement.
Conflicting reports state that the judge has granted him andywhere from 146 to 292 days credit for time served, meaning that he'll be in prison for a little more than one year at the most. According to a local news analyst, he apparently only has to serve 365 days of the sentence before he is up for parole. With the credit added, what, if any, time will he actually serve? It could be as little as 70 days, but again, this has yet to be clearly determined.
From LA Times:
Johannes Mehserle, 28, contended that he mistakenly used his firearm instead of an electric Taser weapon when he shot Oscar J. Grant III in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009. But prosecutors argued at his trial that Mehserle meant to reach for his handgun as he tried to handcuff an unresisting Grant, who was laying face-down on the platform floor.
In tearful testimony, Mehserle said he intended to use his Taser because he believed Grant might be reaching for a gun in his pants pocket.
That's right: a man who was handcuffed and laying face down on the ground was "reaching for a gun."
Here is an interview Mehserle did recently. I've yet to watch it:
Rough transcript/paraphrasing of the statement from the Grant family representative:
The decision on a new trial (for the enhanced gun charge) was quite surprising (the enhanced gun charge was then dismissed all together). Not surprised at all with the sentencing, considering the system of justice for African Americans, even today. The prosecution was a small step, but that giant step was not made for "true justice." The process was a true "reality check" and the family has been "slapped in the face, kicked in the stomach." The judges decision only contributes to ongoing polarization between the justice system and citizens. The unfair system was "thrown in our face" for all to see. It is a miscarriage of justice to say that the person who committed the crime can get away with it by claiming it was a mistake when evidence says otherwise. Even the 4 year sentence would have been more respectful. Michael Vick serves more time for killing a dog than what will be served for killing Oscar Grant. The grants are law-abiding family, and this is a "shock to the system". No winners here; we've lost a life and a sense of a fair system. African American men can take this as proof that their lives are "not worth much." "We have not closed the gap because the judicial system has not closed the gap."
Sadly, supporters of justice for Oscar Grant have had to continually shift their goals for justice. First, justice was a murder conviction. Then, justice was the maximum 14 year sentence. Now...will justice be reduced to Mehserle serving a full year rather than weeks and probation?