Friday, January 16, 2009

Bart Officer Pleads "Not Guilty"

The Bart officer who has been charged with murder for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant plead "not guilty" to the charge yesterday in Alameda Superior Court. His attorney, Christopher Miller, stated that he plans on moving for a reduction of bail.

No real surprise. But I did want to make a few points, somewhat in response to a lot of what I've heard in the media.

1. My previous post about the propriety of the charges against Johannes Mehserle, I was in no way indicating that I thought he was actually guilty of murder, or any other crime. I was only commenting on the DA's decision to charge him with murder, based on the publicly available information. I think it was a reasonable, if somewhat aggressive charge. This doesn't mean they won't change their minds later once further information is discovered, or the Mehserle begins to mount his defense. I think if the defense can bring up the chaos that preceded the now infamous video, to show the stress of the situation, and how at the time perhaps the situation was not as calm and under control as it might seem from a 1 minute film on youtube.

2. Getting a lawyer and not making any public statements should not be held against Mehserle. This is what any sane person should do if confronted with a charge like this. Even if you are innocent, the best way to stay that way is to get a good lawyer, rather than depend on the mercy of the DA in an adversarial system that will, in all likelihood, not be forthcoming.

3. Also, a correction. Contrary to initial media reports, it appears that Grant was "restrained" but not handcuffed at the time he was shot. The fact that Grant could have reached for something, I think, might change the dynamic of this case.

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