Johannes Mehserle, the 27-year-old White transit cop who was charged with murder in the shooting death an unarmed young Black man, pleaded not guilty Thursday in an Oakland courtroom.
The Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff charged Mehserle on Tuesday with committing an intentional, unlawful act when he shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant to death at Fruitvale Station, a stop on the Bay Area Rapid Transit route.
Mehserle and other BART officers, who said they were investigating an onboard fight, had pulled Grant and several acquaintances from a train about 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
When Mehserle shot him – the episode was captured in a cell phone camera – Grant was lying face down with his hands behind his back, according to Oakland Police investigators.
Mehserle has declined to talk to detectives about the ordeal. The two-year veteran of the BART Police quit the force on Jan. 7.
If the case goes to trial, the jury would have the option of acquitting Mehserle, or convicting him of first- or second-degree murder or a lesser charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, according to Orloff.
Christopher Miller, the attorney representing Mehserle, said his client is a “fine young man” and that he’s expecting a jury to acquit. Mehserle is being held without bail.