So, in an unexpected turn, Johannes Mehserle was found guilty
of involuntary manslaughter. This was, of course, the lowest charge the jury was given to convict on, with the highest being second-degree murder (the judge smacked down the prosecutions attempt to include first-degree murder, which was absurd anyway). He faces two to four years in prison.
I'm not finding the same story again, but apparently this was the first cop convicted in shooting in Los Angeles (the case was moved there from Oakland, for obvious reasons) in over two decades
(since 1983). So...yeah.
Personally, I'm pretty happy with the outcome. Honestly, I was (sadly) happy just to see him charged, and have to spend a year in jail during the trial...this is more than I'd ever have expected given the circumstances. To see an actual conviction? I'd never have bet on it, and most of the analyses prior to the verdict were suggesting an acquittal was absolutely expected. Juries just do not
convict cops for the crazy shit they do while wearing a uniform, especially if there's any
way they can justify a use of force.
The actual charge they convicted on is appropriate, as well...the entire idea of second-degree murder was absurd, and the prosecution never had a chance of proving
such. This was almost certainly a ploy to try and force a plea bargain rather than risk a verdict...glad it failed.
Still, what Mehserle did was
illegal. Even assuming you believe he intended to use his Taser
(his explanation of the incident, which I am
inclined to believe for various reasons) the use of a Taser in this situation was entirely inappropriate. It doesn't matter that he didn't intend to fire his "real" gun, it doesn't matter that he had no intention of killing Grant, the simple fact is that even the use of the Taser
was grossly negligent in this situation, posed real risk of harm to Grant, and thus the death
of Grant was criminal.
Obviously, I'm not a lawyer. Feel free to discuss this further and correct any inappropriate legal assertions all up ins.
I honestly don't even give a shit if he gets off with time served (if the judge is somehow allowed to go below the minimum 2-year sentence, which I doubt). Simply having a jury of his peers look at him (and, indirectly, every other cop out there) and say "hey, you, fuckhead...that shit was absolutely unacceptable" is necessary.
Plus, a sweet felony conviction (involuntary manslaughter is
a felony, right?) means that it's entirely unlikely he'll wind up a cop anywhere else, ever again. And, while I'm not sure how California handles this, it's entirely likely this guy will not legally touch a handgun for a very long time, if ever again.
This also reduces (though probably doesn't eliminate) the odds that Oakland will burn to the ground tonight. A plus, to be sure.
Sorry to make a third "cops gone wild" thread in like a week, but I felt this deserved its own. It's just...I don't know, it feels like a big deal.
Old thread here.
EDIT: Also, I don't mean to imply by the title that no cops will agree with this verdict. But seriously, a guy could be charged with sodomizing a handcuffed guy with a broomstick then shooting him 37 times (maybe after tasing him a couple times first, for fun) and far
too man cops would jump up and claim "we don't have all the facts,
man!" So yeah. I can see more than a few taking exception for the very idea
of a cop being found guilty of homicide for the discharge of a weapon while in uniform, pretty much regardless of the circumstances.