A judge has sentenced a white former transit officer to two years in prison in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on a California train platform.
“This will have a detrimental impact on the relationship between the police and the African communities and the Hispanic communities … because of the tension that exists already … and the schism that exists in these communities. This case rightly or wrongly exemplifies that. And then when the result comes down as it has, it only says there’s no bridge here … that we have not closed the gap because the judicial system has not closed the gap. it has not given people confidence and a sense of fairness about what could happen.
— John Burris — attorney for the Grant family
And if a man goes to prison for killing a dog, and he gets four years, then of course two year is not enough.
— Cephus Johnson, victim’s uncle
Oscar Grant was shot unarmed by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. The incident was captured on multiple digital video devices and cell phone cameras.
Mehserle’s criminal defense attorney, has claimed Mehserle intended to fire his Taser, but mistakenly shot Grant with a pistol when he thought Grant was reaching for a gun.
The maximum sentence could have been 14 years. Mehserle could be free in 70 days.
Grant’s family has been calling for peace in the aftermath of the ruling.