LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury has convicted a white former transit officer of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform.
Johannes Mehserle was found guilty on Thursday in the New Year's Day 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant. Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two to four years.
At least five bystanders videotaped the incident — one of the most racially polarizing cases in California since four Los Angeles officers were acquitted in 1992 in the beating of Rodney King.
Prosecutors said the 28-year-old Mehserle became angry at Grant for resisting arrest. Mehserle claims he mistakenly drew his gun instead of his Taser.
The trial was moved to Los Angeles after racial tensions boiled over into violence in Oakland.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury reached a verdict Thursday in the trial of a former San Francisco Bay area transit officer accused of murdering an unarmed black man on an Oakland train platform.
The eight-woman, four-man panel is scheduled to read the verdict at 4 p.m. PDT Thursday after deliberating for more than six hours over two days.
Former officer Johannes Mehserle, who is white, has pleaded not guilty in the shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant when officers responded to a fight aboard a train that arrived at the Fruitvale station.
Mehserle claimed he mistakenly pulled his handgun instead of a Taser during the incident on New Year's Day 2009 that was videotaped by bystanders.
The trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles because of racial tensions and intense media coverage.
Police in Oakland expected protests after the verdict and prepared by getting crowd-control training and working 12-hour shifts. A group of activists planned a rally outside City Hall.
None of the jurors listed their race as black. Seven said they were white, three were Latino, and one was Asian-Pacific. One declined to state their race.
The verdict followed a three-week trial in which prosecutors played videos by bystanders, and witnesses recounted hearing the frightening gunshot that killed Grant.
Mehserle, 28, testified that he struggled with Grant and saw him digging in his pocket. Fearing Grant might have a weapon, Mehserle said he decided to shock Grant with his Taser but pulled his .40-caliber handgun instead.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Stein said in his closing argument that Mehserle let his emotions get the better of him and intended to shoot Grant with the handgun without justification.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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