Larry Mantle |

"AirTalk" listeners are debating the verdict in the BART shooting trial

The Los Angeles jury's decision to convict former BART officer Johannes Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter led to a range of listener reactions. Some felt the killing of unarmed Oscar Grant deserved a second-degree murder conviction, which was what the prosecution sought. Others thought it obvious that Mehserle mistakenly pulled and fired his handgun when he thought he'd drawn his Taser. That was the crux of Mehserle's defense.

I still can't square two contradictory parts of this sad case. One is that witnesses at the scene, including friends of Grant, testified that officer Mehserle indicated he was pulling his Taser before he pulled his handgun. They also testified that he looked very surprised when his gun discharged. That strongly bolsters Mehserle's claim that he thought he was using his Taser. Otherwise, you'd have an officer who, in the heat of the moment, planned out that he would falsely announce he was pulling his Taser and then feign surprise at the gunshot.

However, given the size, weight, and holster location differences between the two weapons, I don't understand how he could have mistaken the two. It sounds to me like quite a challenge for a jury to make sense of those two aspects of the event.

What do you think? Was the sentence appropriate? Do you think Mehserle knew that he was executing Grant at the Fruitvale BART station? Was it a tragic accident resulting from training deficiencies? What do you think likely happened that early morning of New Year's Day, 2009?