East Bay News
Witness tells jury Grant never resisted officers
LOS ANGELES (KGO) -- It was an emotional day in a Los Angeles courtroom. The mother of slain BART passenger Oscar Grant wept as prosecutors showed the bullet that killed her son. Grant was shot by a former BART police officer who said he meant to pull his Taser, not his handgun.
About 30 protesters, demanding a murder conviction for former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, were outside the courthouse doors when Grant's family emerged from another day of testimony. They shared the space with Michael Jackson supporters, there to protest his doctor, who was also in court today.
"We actually have a chance for justice and we see this case representing so much more than just Oscar. This is a case that represents so many people that have died at the hands of the police," said Aigge Patterson, a protest organizer.
The planned demonstration was the first time a large group has gathered outside the courthouse for this trial.
"It makes us feel overjoyed that people are tired of seeing the brutality that goes on," said Wanda Johnson, Grant's mother.
Johnson wept as the chief of surgery at Oakland's Highland Hospital described how he tried to save her son's life after he was shot on the Fruitvale station platform New Year's Day 2009.
Grant died eight hours later from a gunshot wound to the back. That fatal bullet fired from Mehserle's gun was entered as evidence on Monday for the prosecution.
A woman who was riding BART that morning and witnessed the shooting also testified that Grant never resisted officers prior to being killed.
But prosecution witness, Pamela Caneva, also mistakenly identified Mehserle in court, saying he was wearing a beige shirt and brown tie, when it was Mehserle's defense attorney, Michael Rains, wearing those colors.
Caneva said former BART officer Tony Pirone was, "very angry, very hostile, and very mean" when he detained Grant and his friends on the platform. She testified Pirone yelled, "shut the f--- up" and "I don't want to hear another f------ word out of your mouth" and that he slammed one of Grant's friends into the station wall.
Witnesses on BART that morning testified that Grant was involved in a fight on the train, but they said he never resisted officers' orders.
Carlos Reyes, Grant's friend seen in amateur video sitting with his hands up, was closest to Grant on the platform. He said Oscar begged Office Tony Pirone not to Tase him. Reyes said, "Oscar was telling him, 'Please don't Tase me. Please don't Tase me. I have a daughter."
Mehserle's lawyer's pointed out inconsistencies in the story and Reyes admitted he lied to BART police during questioning after the shooting.
"I don't believe that was really an issue. The issue is that Oscar was shot in the back," said Cephus Johnson, Grant's uncle.
Grant's girlfriend, Sophina Mesa had just left the platform. Minutes before she heard the fatal shot, she managed to reach Grant on his cell phone. She told the court "It was fast. He said, 'They're beating us for no reason. I'm going to call you back.' And he hung up."
As for some of the inconsistencies, Mehserle's lawyers said that prior statements that Grant's friends made to authorities don't match what they told in court on Monday and that goes for things like the nature of the fight on the BART train and what they say they witnessed on the platform.
What almost all of the witnesses did testify to was what they called Pirone's very aggressive nature on the platform. They say he physically threw Grant's friends to the ground and then he screamed at them for no apparent reason.
On Tuesday, the testimony continues with Grant's friend, Reyes. He said another officer on the BART platform kneed him in the face.
Mehserle is on trial for murder. The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of publicity in the Bay Area.
johannes mehserle, BART, oscar grant, crime, east bay news, cecilia vega
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