Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: King Anyi Howell and the Youth Radio editorial staff
I'm sitting in the courtroom where Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer facing a murder charge for the shooting death of 22-year old Oscar Grant III, is wearing a gray suit, brown shoes, and yellow tie. He sits devoid of emotion. Before the prosecution delivered opening statements, Mehserle looked intently at the evidence box, and that was the only reaction I noticed. For the most part he was just staring forward.
Before the opening statements began Judge Perry dismissed one of the jurors for cause and replaced her with an alternate. No reason was given by the judge.
The prosecution took over most of the morning. Prosecutor Dave Stein laid out his plan for retelling the story of what happened the night Grant was killed - he went through all the various video that was taken and described the environment of the Fruitvale platform from the moment the first two officers arrived on the scene, to a few seconds after the shot was fired. They played the video multiple times. It's much clearer than the news video footage that has been circulating. You see the shot and you see the defendant and Tony Pirone moving the body.
In the video we can see that Mehserle had his Taser out on a couple of occasions. From the video shown it is difficult for me to imagine that Mehserle wasn't aware that he was holding the 40 caliber pistol he was carrying and not the Taser before he pulled the trigger. The holsters and weapons look too different for it to be a simple mistake to my eyes.
The defense just began opening statements before the recess. Mehserle's attorney Michael Rains detailed events up until the final five seconds before the shot was fired. Right before the recess, he said, "something happened in those five seconds and I want to talk about it after the break."
The defense basically threw Pirone and BART under the bus - saying Pirone was an aggressive officer that served as a mentor to Mehserle. Rains also went after Piroine for being aggressive before Mehserle showed up on the scene that night. He skewered BART for not giving sufficient training on the use of Tasers.
Defense attorney Michael Rains completed his opening arguments after the break. Rains argues that Grant's resistance to arrest at 02:11:05 on 01/01/09 prompted Mehserle to reach for and fire what he thought was his Taser. It was not established in the opening arguments when Grant was informed that he was under arrest.
Nicki Long, the Alameda County DA's audio video expert, and eyewitness videographers Maragarita Carazo and Karina Vargas took the stand today in the prosecution's case. Youth Radio interviewed Ms. Vargas in May of 2009.
Much of the discussion online has focused so far on descriptions of the video being played for the jury. For a case that has had so much footage already in the public eye, the prosecution seems to have managed to hold back images that may prove to be key to their case. Among the most retweeted arguments were the introduction of a photo taken by Oscar Grant of former Officer Mehserle holding his Taser shortly before Grant was shot, and the defense's assertions that the "tragedy" of the shooting revolved around Mehserle's poor training by BART police and the influence of fellow officer Tony Pirone.Continuing Coverage:
- Youth Radio will be hosting a chat on Twitter with reporters and observers at the LA County Superior Court every day that the trial is in session at 12:30PM PDT. Search for the hashtag #OGTrial, or follow @youthradio for updates.
- Youth Radio has been reporting this case since day one. Click here for more multimedia stories about the Oscar Grant case.
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