Supporters rally for Bay Area transit cop awaiting sentencing in racially charged shooting case

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Supporters of the former Bay Area transit cop convicted of shooting and killing an unarmed man rallied today in an affluent Bay Area city. KPCC’s Julie Small says counterdemonstrators came out in force, and caused police to close some streets during afternoon rush hour.

About 100 supporters of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle rallied on the steps of Walnut Creek’s courthouse.  They say Mehserle — who is white — shot and killed a black man, Oscar Grant, by accident. 

The courthouse closed Monday afternoon as a precaution.

A jury recently convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of the unarmed man.  The former transit cop’s supporters say that conviction’s fair.  But Oscar Grant’s supporters had hoped for a conviction on a more serious charge, second degree murder. 

A hundred or so of them showed up to counter Mesherle’s supporters.  The two groups shouted at each other over metal barricades local police erected to prevent violence. The Los Angeles judge who heard Mehserle’s case — because it had generated so much pre-trial publicity in Oakland — recently postponed the former cop’s sentencing from next month until November.