Thursday, July 8, 2010

Justice For Who?

Oscar Grant Verdict: Involuntary Manslaughter; 2-4 Years Jail

Thousands of us have seen the shocking video of the shooting of Oscar Grant at a BART station on New Year’s Day in Oakland, Ca. Anyone watching the video can clearly see that Grant was handcuffed, on his knees, and surrounded by cops. The murderer, or officer, was Johannes Mehserle a BART cop who alleged that he meant to reach for his taser instead of his gun. Today, at 4p, the jury announced Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, for which he will face 2-4 years in prison.

Whether he serves those 2-4 years in prison or petitions for probation it is appalling that he was not charged with murder, or at least voluntary manslaughter. The defense argued that Mehserle intended to tase Grant and was shocked when he shot Grant instead. This argument is coming from a man who had been an active duty cop for 3 years, had been trained to use a taser, and whose taser was on the opposite side of his gun.

It is obvious that Mehserle allowed his emotions to dictate his actions. If his argument is true, it means that he was not able to think clearly enough to distinguish between a yellow taser and a black handgun that weighs twice as much. Those in law enforcement are trained on how to properly shoot guns and use tasers yet this cop argued he made a mistake in distinguishing the two. Such argument evidently makes him unsuitable to be a cop but does it excuse him of killing a 22-year old? Apparently, the judge agrees he is not guilty of murder.

In order for someone to be charged with murder, the key factor that must be proved without any reasonable doubt is intent. Did Mehserle intend on killing Grant? Many say he did not. Several witnesses reported that prior to shooting his gun Mehserle announce he was going to tase Grant. The key detail that directly influences the charges that Mehserle faced is the fact that he was a cop. Because he was a cop who was apparently apprehending a suspect who was resisting arrest, under the law, he is given the benefit of the doubt that he did NOT intend to kill Grant.

This case touches on so many issues that is difficult for me to even write about without being tempted to cover everything. The fact the Mehserle is white and Grant was black brings up the racial tensions in our communities especially when the white individual is the one with “legal” power. Police brutality becomes an issue if we consider the fact that Grant was handcuffed and did not appear to be resisting arrest at the time he was shot. I can go on for days about the details of this case but the fats are: Mehserle resigned from the force a week after the shooting, Oscar Grant a 22-year-old man is dead, Mehserle faces 2-4 years in prison for which he can petition for probation instead, and a whole community cries over the injustice that has occurred.
The INjustice system provided Mehserle with the conviction that benefits him and it leaves the Grant family along with a whole community angry, confused, and disillusioned yet again, with our legal system.


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