Ex-police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant III in 2009. Since then, he has been removed from his position in the Bay Area Rapid Transit force and has been attending numerous trials. Recently, Superior Court Judge Robert Perry dismissed a key part of the evidence against Mehserle. He is now looking to face seven months in prison, as opposed to the former 14 years alleged against him.
Mehserle claims that he shot Grand by accident when he accidentally used his gun rather than his taser. Police claim evidence toward this is surmountable and that the prosecution’s examples were insufficient. Mehserle has been released from being accused of gun enhancement, and is now being prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. Grant’s family and much of the Bay Area is extremely unhappy about the ruling and have been holding protests outside of the court house.
I personally believe that Mehserle will get off lightly for this case. Evidence points that it was indeed an involuntary manslaughter. I do, however, think he should serve at least a year for his crimes because a police officer’s gun is snapped into its holster and it is necessary to pull the trigger. On a taser, one simply pushes a button. It is understandable how in an emergency someone will just automatically react and pull a trigger rather than pushing a button, but Grant is still dead because of that mistake.
While Mehserle is getting off lightly, I think that the disagreement of the general populace is going to pressure the police force and, for awhile, they will be somewhat more harsh on law breakers within their own ranks. There is, after all, only so much the public will stand before the entire police force is under investigation for criminal actions. Those who uphold our laws are not above them, and as such should not be treated with any difference than a common man with the same circumstances and evidence.
There is, however, the small possibility that some officers will get off more lightly. After all, what is a small infringement next to involuntary murder? A judge is more likely to dismiss a petty case and move on to a more important one not involving an officer. The fact that the officer was meant to uphold the law and not break it is, needless to say, overlooked.
Mehserle will likely be served with a seven-month to two-year prison sentence, but will most likely be out on parole long before that time is up. While I do not believe he will ever serve in the police force again, it is possible. Police officers have a history of returning to the service after getting out of prison.