D.A. Ponders Charges Against Killer Cop

Published January 12, 2009

As prosecutors in Oakland, Calif., ponder whether to file criminal charges against the 27-year-old White transit cop who shot to death a handcuffed young Black man on New Year’s Day, officials for the agency that employed the officer say they’re perturbed by his attitude.

"Nobody's been able to talk to [Johannes Mehserle]," Linton Johnson, a spokesman for the Bay Area Rapid Transit, said of the BART officer who fired the fatal shot. "We've been trying aggressively to get him to come in, but he hasn't. It's been very frustrating."

All the other officers present during the shooting have been interviewed, according to BART Police Chief Gary Gee.

Mehserle, a member of the force for the past two years, was captured on a cell phone camera shooting 22-year-old Oscar Grant. When the public caught sight of the video on national TV news and the Internet last week, it sparked protests in downtown Oakland.

On Friday, Alameda County prosecutors filed against three protestors on charges of possession of concealed weapons, causing a public disturbance and misdemeanor vandalism. More than 100 people were arrested during the demonstrations that left some 300 businesses damaged; 70 others were cited and released. Many of the demonstrators said that they had been roughed up by police and left with black eyes, scratches and bruises.

Last week, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said that his office will announce whether to charge Mehserle.

John Burris, a prominent Oakland civil rights attorney, has filed a lawsuit against BART on behalf of Grant's mother and 4-year-old daughter.

"Now we have an overriding responsibility to ensure terrible tragedies like this never happen again," BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said.

Written by From Staff & Wire Services

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