A judge ruled Thursday that a former transit police officer should stand trial on murder charges in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man on a train platform.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Don Clay said there was sufficient evidence for ex-Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle to face murder charges in the slaying of Oscar Grant early New Year’s Day.
Mehserle has pleaded not guilty.
Mehserle’s defense has contended that Mehserle accidentally grabbed his pistol instead of his stun gun when he shot Grant, who was face down on the platform.
“There is no doubt in my mind Mr. Mehserle meant to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun, not a Taser,” the judge said, concluding a seven-day preliminary hearing in Oakland. “It’s a dangerous act, an intentional act, a deliberate act.”
Videos of the incident that spread across the Internet show Mehserle, 27, firing a shot into the 22-year-old’s back. Officers had detained Grant and four friends at Oakland’s Fruitvale station for allegedly fighting on a train. The video prompted sometimes violent protests in Oakland.
When the judge rendered his decision, Mehserle sat looking straight ahead. Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, burst into tears.
After the court session, Johnson said, “I’m hurt. I’m saddened. Even if Mehserle goes to jail, his family is going to be hurt just like my family. They will have a loss. But their loss they will be able to go see. My loss, I have to go to the gravesite and look at my son’s headstone.”
Mehserle, who is free on $3 million bail, is next scheduled to appear June 18.