Friday, January 30, 2009

Skeptical judge grants bail to former BART cop, bail set at $3,000,000; protesters take to the streets

About 5:45p.m., a friend called me to ask me how long the protest over the bail hearing would last, one of her daughters who works at Downtown Oakland California called her to tell her that the protest was still going on and that there were many very upset people and that there was a heavy police presence, the building where her daughter works was being evacuated and employees were asked to leave the building because it was going to be closed and whoever stayed inside, would have to wait until tomorrow to get out.

I told her that I thought it'd be over by now but that I would ask.

According to an report from a source in the protest whom I contacted around 6p.m. PST: "at aprox. 3p.m., from 100 to 200 people were protesting at the Court House in Oakland CA, upon hearing that bail was granted, they started marching to Downtown heading toward City Hall, from then the protested marched toward the Oakland Police Station at 7th and Bryant, by this time the protest has grown to between 300 to 350 people, in this location, the Police started shooting Flash Granades and/or something like Tear Gas Granades, the protesters dispersed except for about 100 of them who stayed / regrouped and marched again toward the Police Station where they were corralled, according to my source, the police moved into the group, 2 protesters were arrested and the rest dispersed" - apparently the actions were over - at this time (5p.m.), my source left.

This is the latest according to an InsideBayArea.Com, Updated: 01/30/2009 08:15:50 PM PST where it reports that eight arrested in the protest.
At 4: 59 p.m., Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums erroneously reports that former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle has posted bail and been released from jail, a report that is picked up throughout the media.

6 p.m. All is tense but calm in downtown Oakland. Police are out in force at 14th and Broadway and merchants are taking no chances for a repeat of riots on Jan. 7 and 14, and are closing early.

At 6 p.m., Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums retracted its statement, and confirmed that Mehserle is still in jail. Dellums called for calm in the city in the wake of a bail being set for Mehserle.

At about 4:30 p.m. two men are arrested in the McDonald's parking lot at 14th and Madison. Police continue to push the small crowd back up 14th Street toward Alice where they warn that if the crowd doesn't disperse they will fire teargas.

At 14th and Harrison the police pushed some people to the ground and club others.

One youth was tackled to the ground after he resisted the police.

About eight people were taken into custody at 14th and Harrison streets. The heavy police presence forces what's left of the crowd south on Madison Street.

About 4 p.m. police fire two flash bang grenades at the crowd and push the crowd of 40 or so protesters back down Broadway toward 14th Street. They headed back down 14th to the courthouse but Tactical teams of police in humvees and riot gear face off the crowd at 14th and Madison and begin arresting some of the protesters.

About 3:15 p.m., after the bail was announced the crowd rallying outside the courthouse at 12th and Oak streets converged took off up 14th Street toward downtown. The crowd got to 14th and Broadway and blocked the intersection for about 10 minutes while two men jumped on top of an AC Transit bus.

Police arrived and the crowd took off toward OPD headquarters at 7th and Broadway, where somebody smashed the rear windows of an unmarked police sedan at 7th and Washington streets.

Shortly after 3 p.m. it was announced that a $3 million bail had been set for Johannes Mehserle. Only about 40 spectators were allowed in the courtroom for the hearing that started at 2 p.m. Others crowded the hallways, and still more waited outside the building. When the $3 million bail was announced, one man shouted, "We should block the doors and not let this mother f--- get away!"

Most people were fairly quiet in the hallway, however.

"I'm pretty broke up and I don't even know Oscar," said Otis Duckett of Oakland. "I'm not for violence, but what can we do when we have (expletive) cops killing black men?"



On January 30th, bail for BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was set at $3 million. Oakland mayor Ron Dellums had released a statement to the media late Friday afternoon saying bail was posted but the Alameda County Sheriff's Office claims he was mistaken. Mehserle claimed he was reaching for a taser when he accidentally grabbed his gun (which was loaded and with safety off) and shot to death Oscar Grant, who was lying face down on the ground.

Protesters gathered outside the courthouse and marched toward 14th and Broadway after the bail was announced. BART closed the 12th Street station and Oakland police blocked off several roads and fired tear gas and projectiles at protesters.


Attorney Michael Rains wrote in a court document that a second BART officer, Tony Pirone, reported hearing Mehserle say just before shooting Oscar Grant, "I'm going to tase him, I'm going to tase him."

Afterward, Mehserle said he thought Grant had been reaching for a gun, Rains wrote.

Rains gave the account in a motion asking Judge Morris Jacobson to release Mehserle on bail while the former officer defends himself against murder charges. Jacobson agreed to set bail at $3 million, even as he expressed deep skepticism about the account in Rains' motion.

After a one-hour hearing in Alameda County Superior Court, Jacobson said Mehserle "has a willingness to add to the story, to change the story, to make up something that's not true to avoid consequences."

It was not immediately clear whether Mehserle would be able to post bail and be released from Santa Rita Jail. Before the hearing, Rains said Mehserle could not afford a high bail but that his parents might be able to put up the money.

Mehserle, dressed in a jail-issue jumpsuit, attended the hearing but did not speak.

The legal filing by Rains does not specifically give Mehserle's explanation for the shooting at Fruitvale Station, which happened as he and other officers were trying to arrest Grant for resisting an officer. Instead, it quotes statements that several other officers and witnesses gave to authorities and refers to evidence from the scene.

Still, it marks the first time that Mehserle's attorneys have indicated what his defense could be at a trial.

Rains wrote that "the bulk of the discovery, including witness and officer statements, seem to indicate that this young officer, who carried a Taser for only a few shifts prior to this event, may have mistakenly deployed his service pistol rather than his Taser, thus negating any criminal intent."

The prosecutor in the case, John Creighton, questioned whether that account made sense.

Creighton noted that the defense attorney quotes Pirone as saying after the shooting that Mehserle approached him and said, "Tony, I thought he was going for a gun."

"If he intended to pull his Taser and pulled his service weapon by mistake, why would he say to another officer after the fact, 'I thought he was going for a gun'?" Creighton said. "Why wouldn't he say, "Oh my God, Tony, I meant to pull my Taser,' or something to that effect?"

Judge Jacobson also pointed to the reported remark about the gun in questioning whether Mehserle was being honest. The Taser explanation "appears to me to be a change in his story," Jacobson said.

Rains' 14-page bail motion asserted that Mehserle is not a danger to the community or a flight risk. But John Burris, an attorney representing Grant's family, said Mehserle should not be released.

He said the evidence in the case - including camera footage of the shooting - suggested that the officer meant to fire his gun, not his Taser.

"That's a defense that's not surprising, as much as it's been talked about," Burris said. "I would only say that, No. 1, the Taser shouldn't have been used, either. There wasn't any basis for that. And No. 2, the facts on the videotape don't support that as an argument. But that has to be presented at trial."

Burris said, "The evidence is consistent with murder."

Mehserle, 27, and other BART officers had detained the/


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