[Updated] Jurors: Oakland transit officer found guilty of involuntary manslaughter

Oscar Grant supporters chanting outside Los Angeles criminal courts building, July 8, 2010.
Oscar Grant supporters chanting outside Los Angeles criminal courts building, July 8, 2010.
Brian Watt/KPCC

Jurors in the Los Angeles trial of a former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer charged with murdering an unarmed man at an Oakland subway station found the former officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter today.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. | Permalink Oakland police make 2 arrests OAKLAND — Oakland's police chief says officers plan to allow people to express their disappointment in the Johannes Mehserle verdict throughout the night as long as they do not cause any trouble. Chief Anthony Batts said during a news briefing Thursday night that the department wants to give protesters in the city's downtown what he termed "space and opportunity" to express their concerns while ensuring "we don't have any problems in our town." Batts says the demonstration that followed the verdict announced in Los Angeles has been mostly calm aside from a few people throwing rocks and an small incendiary device that was set off, but caused no damage or injuries. A short while after the chief's briefing, officers arrested two people -- the first two arrests of the night. - Associated Press - Photos by KPCC's Julie Small

Updated at 5:50 p.m. | Permalink Oakland crowd marches after Mehserle verdict Download
OAKLAND — About 400 people are marching through Oakland to demonstrate against the verdict in the Johannes Mehserle case. The growing crowd began their march around 5:30 p.m. Thursday near city hall and are moving through downtown, past businesses that have boarded up as a precaution against possible riots. Protesters are standing face to face with police officers in riot gear, who are trying to keep them off the roadway. Mayor Ron Dellums has pleaded for those unhappy with the involuntary manslaughter verdict to protest peacefully. He acknowledged that many in the community are outraged at what they believe is an unjust verdict for the former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man. - Associated Press
-Audio provided by KPCC's Julie Small

Updated at 5:45 p.m. | Permalink Oakland braces for unrest in wake of verdict Download
OAKLAND — The mood of Oscar Grant supporters in Oakland could be described as angry and frustrated once the verdict was announced. A prayer circle was reported to have formed spontaneously near City Hall. The community had made a coordinated effort in the weeks leading up to the trial's close to prevent civil unrest in the city. Many downtown workers were advised to leave work early in anticipation of the jury's announcement. - Mina Kim, KQED reporter

Updated at 5:25 p.m. | Permalink Oscar Grant's mother vows to continue to seek justice Download
Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, told reporters gathered outside of the L.A. courthouse the man responsible for her son's death was not held accountable. Johnson invoked the words of Martin Luther King Jr., and various Biblical passages when expressing her disappointment with the verdict. She said the verdict doesn't bring closure to the death of her son. "The race will not be given to the swift or the strong, but to those that endure to the end," Johnson said. - KPCC staff

Updated at 5:12 p.m. | Permalink Gun enhancement verdict may extend prison sentence Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry scheduled sentencing for Aug. 6. An involuntary manslaughter charge normally carries a prison sentence of two to four years, but the jury also found true a sentencing-enhancement that Mehserle personally used a handgun in the commission of a crime. He could face three to ten years in addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge. - KPCC wire services

Updated at 4:50 p.m. | Permalink Family members react to reading of verdict As Mehserle was ordered to remain in custody, deputies handcuffed and walked him out of courtroom. He could be seen mouthing the words "I love you" to his family sitting in courtroom. His father was openly crying, KGO-TV reported. Oscar Grant's mother was seen holding her hands in prayer leading up to the reading of the verdict. She remained silent when the verdict was read aloud, and shook her head. - KPCC staff

Updated at 4:35 p.m. | Permalink Family lawyer: 'Extremely disappointed in verdict' The attorney for the family of Oscar Grant, John Burris, said the family was 'extremely disappointed' in the involuntary manslaughter verdict reached today by the jury. He called it another example of the injustices that accompany many officer-involved shootings of black men. - KPCC staff

Updated at 4:20 p.m. | Permalink Involuntary manslaughter conviction a 'slap on the wrist' Pro-Oscar Grant supporters expressed dismay at the jury's verdict, comparing it to "a slap on the wrist.". An involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a prison sentence of between two to four years. - Brian Watt

Updated at 4:08 p.m. | Permalink Jury: BART officer found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Jurors brought back a guilty verdict in the trial of Johannes Mehserle, 28, convicting him of involuntary manslaughter today. Mehserle was charged with second-degree murder for the killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot on New Year's Day 2009 at Oakland's Fruitvale BART station platform.

Earlier | Permalink Verdict expected at 4 p.m. The verdict in the racially charged trial of Johannes Mehserle, 28, was expected to be read at 4 p.m., according to Los Angeles Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini. Mehserle is charged with second-degree murder for the killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot on New Year's Day 2009 at Oakland's Fruitvale BART station platform. He faces up to life in prison if convicted. Mehserle is white and Grant was black. The shooting was caught on video and sparked angry protests, which is why the trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles. Mehserle testified that the shooting was accidental and that he meant to use a stun gun instead of his service handgun while trying to subdue Grant. But Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David R. Stein told jurors in his closing argument that the defendant "lost all control'' when he intentionally shot Grant because the victim was resisting arrest. The shooting is "what happens when a police officer acts out of the desire to punish people,'' Stein said. "He let his emotions dictate his actions ... The defendant's desire to mistreat Mr. Grant ... resulted in the death of an innocent person.'' In his summation, defense attorney Michael L. Rains said the case against Mehserle was riddled with reasonable doubt. "There's nothing that suggests an intent to kill -- nothing,'' Mehserle's lawyer said. Rains said his client "wasn't trying to kill Mr. Grant ... he was trying to Tase Mr. Grant.'' Referring to the racial dimension of the closely watched case, Rains urged jurors to resist using their decision to "address social injustice ... or render a verdict as some sort of commentary'' on the relationship between the police and minorities. Last week, the judge rejected a prosecution request that jurors be allowed to consider first-degree murder against Mehserle, saying there wasn't enough evidence to show the shooting of Grant was premeditated. Instead, jurors can convict him of second-degree murder, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, or find Mehserle innocent, the judge said. If convicted, Mehserle faces anywhere from two years to life in prison, depending on the charge. Jurors deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours last Friday, but after a day off for the Fourth of July holiday on Monday, the panel had another day off on Tuesday due to a sick juror. On Wednesday, an alternate juror had to be seated to replace a juror who was excused due to a pre-planned vacation. The reconstituted panel -- eight women and four men -- began its deliberations from scratch Wednesday morning, but only deliberated until about noon before resuming at 9 a.m. today.