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Inside the Courtroom -- Johannes Mehserle Trial Day 4

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: King Anyi Howell

LOS ANGELES - The case, The People vs. Johannes Mehserle, started a bit early today – at 8:22 am.

Here's where you can find the basic overview of the case.

Defense attorney Michael Rains took aim at a story by KTVU, a media outlet in the Bay Area. He expressed his anger that a story posted on the station's website, which mixed up testimony between witnesses. Rains said that inaccurate reporting could have negative consequences for the case. At that point the reporter for KTVU went straight to the hallway -- I assume to notify her editors.



Then Judge Robert Perry piggy-backed on Rains' comment, stressing the importance of accurate reporting and encouraging members of the media to avail themselves of court reporters. What's interesting is that Judge Perry ruled that no cameras, computers, or audio recorders are allowed in the courtroom to capture the trial of former BART officer Mehserle, who stands trial for the murder of Oscar Grant. But it makes me wonder – if he’s so interested in accurate reporting, why not allow the media one audio recording?



And another thing to note from today: a second juror was excused from the case. Last week, a female juror was excused for cause (we don't know why). But today, a middle-aged woman (Juror #7) left the jury because she had fallen asleep, again. The first nap was during Michael Rains' opening statement. Judge Perry acknowledged her trouble staying alert during testimony. A juror alternate replaced her. So now we have a jury of seven women and five men.


Also today, Carlos Reyes wrapped up his testimony and doesn't remember a lot from that night. He was detained by BART Police the night of the shooting, and was closest to Grant when the shot was fired. In fact, when the police wrestled with Grant to get his arms behind his back, Grant at one point was on top of Reyes’ legs. Carlos Reyes admitted to lying to BART officers on Jan 1, 2009. After 7 hrs in custody, four of those spent handcuffed, he said he was more concerned with Grant's well-being than providing an accurate account for the BART Police officers interviewing him.



Reyes’s testimony was followed by testimony from three police weapons experts. Paul Slivinsky and Paul Garcia were employed with BART on Jan 1, 2009, and supervised Mehserle’s trainings on how and when to properly discharge his weapon. David Clark is a range master at Napa Valley College’s police program. Slivinksy, Garcia, and Clark each testified to the numerous safety mechanisms that exist on the gun, on the holster, and procedurally which should have prevented Grant from being shot. They each looked at the tape and said Mehserle’s actions were inconsistent with his training.


Sgt. Eugene Wong also testified that Mehserle didn’t follow proper police procedure. Wong is a BART Police defensive tactics instructor who trains officers to safely detain, search and arrest suspects while maintaining control.



In my mind, Rains’ cross examinations have been able to prove that Mehserle didn’t intend to kill Grant. Stein has been able to prove, however, that Mehserle DID overcome several safety precautions put in place to prevent the shooting. Even to accidentally shoot and kill a suspect, Mehserle had to bypass the safety mechanisms of his holster, his firearm, his firearms training, as well as his tactical defense training.

 


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.



 

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