Thursday, July 08, 2010

Verdict in Oscar Grant BART shooting case

ColorLines has had comprehensive coverage of the trial. Here's their chart explaining what the different verdict possibilities were and their meanings.

LAT provides a good summary of the basic issues of the case. SF Chronicle is updating their story on what's happening on the streets of Oakland this evening here and also here. The Chronicle is up with their editorial, saying it's the right verdict, though they also come across as a hint conflicted (is their understanding of voluntary manslaughter even correct? I'm confused). NYTimes currently has a bad headline: "Officer Guilty in Killing That Inflamed Oakland." Yes, all true, but incredibly misleading -- the news here is that the jury picked only involuntary manslaughter.

I followed the news of the shooting back in the days after it happened, but haven't been following the trial. My basic feeling is that it's awfully hard to imagine either of the scenarios -- that the officer meant to fire his Taser and not his gun, or that he knowingly shot Oscar Grant with his gun. Each scenario has a number of reasons that make it highly unlikely.

From a legal sense, it's possible that today's verdict was correct, based on what could be known, beyond a reasonable doubt, about what was going on in the officer's head. I don't know. On the other side, you have the good point made by commenter Michael Blev at ColorLines. A black police officer would likely have been laughed out of court if he used the defense that Mehserle did.


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