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Oscar Grant’s family slams letter from Mehserle, whose lawyer calls family ‘mean spirited,’ requests sentencing delay

July 13, 2010
Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby – Cephus Johnson – speaks to the press Friday about the letter from Mehserle.
by Ed Walsh

At a press conference in Oakland called by the family of Oscar Grant on Saturday, they told reporters that the letter of apology from Mehserle should have come much sooner and should have been directed to them personally. The letter and raw tape of the press conference from ABC7 News is below. Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, said that he was not buying Mehserle’s apology and, he said, neither was the public.


Now that the gag order in the case has been lifted, the attorney for former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is speaking out. KGO-TV asked Michael Rains on Sunday his reaction to Oscar Grant’s family denouncing Mehserle’s letter of apology.

Rains told KGO-TV on Sunday, “You know what, I don’t think that when the family remains that hostile and that nasty and mean-spirited that Mr. Mehserle should be out there offering olive branches because they will not be received.”

Meanwhile, Mehserle had been scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 6 but that will likely be delayed. Michael Rains, the attorney for the former BART officer, asked for a delay in sentencing to give him more time to prepare. The judge in the case, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, told Rains that he wanted the attorney to argue his post-trial motions at sentencing and Rains said he needed more time.

Rains is asking that sentencing be delayed about another month. Rains told the San Francisco Chronicle that Perry seemed amenable to a delay but that he would need to clear it with prosecutor David Stein first. Rains says he will call Stein on Monday.

Rains says the jury was “confused” and in a hurry to reach a verdict and “get out of the courthouse.”

He said the involuntary manslaughter charge and the gun enhancement charge which the jury convicted Mehserle on were mutually exclusive because involuntary means without the intention to fire a gun. Rains will ask the judge at sentencing to set aside the conviction and order a new trial.

Grant’s family is seeking a federal prosecution based on civil rights violations. Rains called that “highly unlikely or altogether impossible.”

Ed Walsh, SF Headlines Examiner, has worked as a journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. He’s worked in television, radio, print and the Internet. His email address is This story first appeared on San Francisco.

Editor’s note: Thandisizwe Chimurenga, one of the journalists who covered the Mehserle trial for the Bay View and other papers, wrote on Facebook, “According to the court’s Public Information Office, no new date has been chosen for Mehserle’s sentencing but it has been pushed back to October, possibly even November.” In response, Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, wrote: “I figured they would try to push it back as far as they can in order to try to say time served. The apology letter I believe was given to the jury to help them determine the verdict. The whole system is unjust.”


20 thoughts on “Oscar Grant’s family slams letter from Mehserle, whose lawyer calls family ‘mean spirited,’ requests sentencing delay

  1. J Winter

    Involuntary manslaughter is when someone puts their foot on the accelerator instead of the brake at a crowded crosswalk. I fail to see how Mehserle's actions can be considered involuntary manslaughter. Let's get real here. The guy pulls his weapon steps back and shoots Oscar. This does not seem involuntary to me. This was an act of murder.

    If the roles were reversed, you can rest assured that the verdict would be first degree murder and possibly lethal injection. And they dare to call this justice??

    Mehserle needs to be retried and punished for the murder he committed. This time no slap on the hand light sentence. Mehserle deserves hard time.

  2. Jamaica

    I hope that everyone can see exactly where this is headed. Get organized and get prepared because we are getting ready to get shafted by the U.S. Justice System again. Our lives have no value under this system. We've been begging, pleading, asking, demanding, and hoping that suddenly things will be different. It will not happen unless we get rid of a system that is rotten to its core and its roots. The system is doing what it is designed to do….protect its authors and their enforcers.

    Get ready.

    1. J Winter

      He is to be tried again under the separate soveriegn double jeopardy exemption which allows the federal government to try him again for the same crime, and I doubt they want to put Meh Surly back in the courthouse to praise him for murdering a human being.

      A verdict of involuntary manslaughter has drawn enough outrage across the US to get them involved. How do you measure 10 to 14 years against a man's life. How can we as a nation ignore our conscience when we see a young man brutally murdered? It's not as simple as that.

      There is a roar like that of a lion for justice, my friend. And the roar is the voice of every man and woman who demands justice, who looks beyond appearance and prejudice and says Oscar Grant was my brother, my son, my nephew, my neighbor, and my friend, and we shall not let his murder go unpunished and we shall not rest until his murderer is brought to justice, and by justice I mean first degee murder, life without possibility or lethal injection.

      I do agree with you in one respect the system has to change and the power must be put back in the hands of the people.

  3. Mahmood Ketabchi

    There is so much anger and frustration among people, so much willingness to fight for justice. Most people in this city know that Mehserle killed Oscar in cold blood. They do not trust that this system, left alone, will bring justice. Yet, there is no leadership. Thousands must be organized and a campaign, with a plan, must be waged.

    1. J Winter

      The fact that people have taken notice and the cry of outrage for this murder is so strong will bring the murderer once again to stand accountable for his deed. The federal government is moving to prosecute Meh Surly, and I doubt this time a token verdict will be handed down.

      The government knows that this cannot go ignored or unpunished.

      When you cry out for justice, and I join you in that cry, and then Jamaica adds to that voice, and yet more and more add to that voice, what happens? It becomes a deafening roar that can only be silenced through the truth and the justice is compelled by that truth.

      The quintessential truth is this. These people are classified as civil servants. The operative word is servant. Their role is to be in submission to the citizenry of this state and nation.

    1. trublak

      wow, Mahmood, I didn't realize 2 of the officers were black. Thanks for the link. This will be an interesting case to watch. The momentum is moving in the people's favor with regard to police wrongdoing and murder.

  4. CPK

    Oscar Grant was a gang banger with a rap sheet filled with drug dealing and violence. He helped start a brawl on the BART. If he cared so much for his 4 year old why was he not home with her? Over 100 African-Americans were sent jury notices for this case. Only 7 showed up making it very easy for the defense to make this a bias jury. I think the cop screwed up big time and SHOULD go to prison. I do NOT think he killed this kid just because he was black. The race card in Oakland is getting old. Gangs and violence are out of control there because of bad parenting and poor education. Its sad.

    1. tkh

      I have to agree with CPK. I am praying there is no riots…riots don't support a case like this in the right way. This cop needs to be delt with but having a cop in the family… I go to bed many of sleepless nights praying for events like this to NOT happen. Daily these guys and women put their lives up against gangbangers that know how to play these cops. I am sad for this family in loosing their kid…but more sad that they lost him many years ago to gangs. Parents must rise up BEFORE these things happen. FIGHT THE GANGS and the EDUCATION system and START BEING PARENTS.

      1. CPK

        Oscar Juliuss Grant III, (February 27, 1986[38] – January 1, 2009), lived in Hayward, California.[22] Grant had worked as a butcher at Farmer Joe's Marketplace in Oakland's Dimond District after previous jobs at several Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets.[11] He attended both San Lorenzo and Mount Eden High Schools in Hayward until the 10th grade and eventually earned his GED.[11]
        Grant served two state prison terms for various felonies including a conviction for drug dealing.[39] In 2007 he was sentenced to 16 months in state prison for fleeing "from a traffic stop while armed with a loaded pistol".[11] During that incident, near his Hayward home, San Leandro police shot him with a Taser to subdue him after he threw the pistol into the air and ran.[11] The arresting officers testified that even after being Tased, Grant "continued to resist efforts of the officers to handcuff him".[40]

  5. Selina

    There's always an AZZ contributing his or her HOT Air among intelligent comments
    [ IN Referrence TO CPK ]

    1. CPK

      No way that kid got shot cause he was black. Lack of family values killed him. Take reasonability for who you are and what you have become. Thats what this country is about. If you don't like it, leave.

      1. STS

        white people are the last one to make an ignorant statement such as take responsibility, time for Blacks to put all crackers in their place……..6 ft. under. No more BS.

  6. mhk

    14 July 2010

    CPK & tkh – watch the following YOU TUBE piece by Rachel Maddow.
    After you do, both of you – put a sock in it…For the biggest gang in the world is the police.


    U.S. trained police bounce from country to country and hood to hood globally: oppressing, killing, looting, raping, extorting – committing crime after crime on local, national and international television, sometimes in broad daylight – and doing so with impunity.

    Human life is not precious to them, most particularly if it is the life of a person of color. They are a global gestapo.

    Had this been the case of a black cop killing a white male so viciously in all probability he wouldn’t have made it off the BART platform alive. And even if he did, and there was a trial, the jury would have STILL been all white – convict, with special circumstances, and firing up the lethal injection/gas chamber and/or electric chair… or maybe just stringing a rope over a tree right there at the platform, and making their own YOU TUBE portraits and videos for sale.

    And no white family would have accepted an ‘apology’ – especially from a black cop. So why would a grieving AFRIKAN family accept an apology for the stolen life of their LOVED ONE – especially after the killer has just been virtually released, scott free and exonerated of his crimes?

    That would be like saying, ‘Thank you very much,’ to the imperial state and accepting 20.00 from Michael Rains, ‘the morning after!’

    It is as Oscar Grant’s uncle, Cephaus Johnson said: ‘Send a letter after you’ve been in jail for 14 years…’

    But I wouldn’t even want to see that. It won’t bring Ancestor-Warrior Oscar Grant III back to physical life with his family, nor will it help to heal his young daughter’s mind.

    What happened to Ancestor-Warrior Oscar Grant III is like listening to the wind whistling through the trees, as Billy Holiday sings of the bitter crop in her haunting, lilting rendition of Abe Meeropol’s ‘Strange Fruit.’ She used to break down every time she sang it.

    In Oakland, there were no trees, but Oscar Grant’s murder was a lynching just the same.

    Like what is happening to Mumia Abu-Jamal. The judge (Sabo) in his case has stated publicly that he wants to ‘fry the nigga.’ Like the cases of so many political prisoners. Like every courtroom in the country, like the cases of Gladys & Jamie Scott. Like the entire island nation of Haiti.

    Like everywhere there are AFRIKAN people – which is everywhere – that is the genocidal battle cry – ‘fry the niggas.’

    The prolonged lynching of Mumia has lasted for decades. The will and power of the people is keeping him alive. That same global powerful will is putting the case of Oscar Grant front and center stage.

    Oscar Grant III sustained head injuries from Tony Pirone who was calling him a ‘bitch assed nigga’ all the time he was beating him, and Pirone made sure that he held Oscar Grant down so that Mehserle could take aim and fire a weapon – Taser AND gun, since Mehserle had drawn BOTH and pointed BOTH at Oscar Grant…

    WTF was INVOLUNTARY about ANY of that?

    And one minute Mehserle ‘accidentally’ drew his gun, but the next minute couldn’t distinguish between the two; and if you study all the reports & pictures carefully, Mehserle drew both weapons with the same hand…This is truly weird, because I’m nearly certain that BOTH weapons weren’t located on the same hip! And if you look at the picture Oscar Grant took, Mehserle’s Taser was in his RIGHT hand…

    So if Mehserle is right handed, how many INVOLUNTARY CROSS DRAWS has anyone ever seen or heard of??

    This was a lynching. No AFRIKAN family in their right sane mind would call it anything else.

    For Michael Rains to consider the Grant Family ‘mean-spirited’ for not accepting this well orchestrated drivel from his office and Mehserle’s lips is just insane and insensitive. Ancestor-Warrior Oscar Grant is physically DEAD!

    Mehserle is still breathing air.

    There is even going to be a support rally at the Walnut Creek Courthouse at 2:00 pm FOR Mehserle this coming Monday…!

    They are announcing it on their FACEBOOK page: SUPPORT PROTEST FOR JOHANNES MEHSERLE

    It’s only got 3 members – that they’re telling us about – but the information is privacy locked so you can’t see who they are….

    This situation is just so very far past being ‘mean spirited…’ This is a life and death struggle; a continuation of oppressed peoples’ fight against the country’s legal lynching plan: Make the monsters’ crimes ‘legal’ and ‘acceptable’ so that they are always licensed (in the eyes of a naive and myopic public) to kill with impunity.

    That way they can continue to criminalize everything we do, from birth to premature death.

    The only thing Mehserle is ‘sorry’ about is that Oscar Grant caught him on camera with his Taser in his hands. That’s why he was trying to drag Oscar’s hand out of his pants pocket. Again, at what point was this an involuntary shooting? Was it before or after he was photographed with the TASER?

    I agree with the Family: Mehserle is playing for time served. He got the light end of the stick in open court. The judge seems to be tactically covering his ass. Neither Mehserle, nor his ‘brother officers’ nor his attorney, nor his friends want him to have to exchange a county jail environment for a prison one.

    That would give the feds room to step in and exonerate him twice, the same way they exonerated Rodney King’s attackers. This seems to be the strategy for getting around ‘eyewitness’ reports – even those that are filmed.

    The message to AFRIKANS then, has been reinforced: the system WILL summarily execute us on the streets, with impunity, and then will use its own court system to ‘justify’ their actions and ‘free’ their assassins to strike again.

    This case is truly very nearly like the 1978 ‘Twinkie Defense,’ utilized to free ex-SFPD cop Dan White in 1978 after he shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in front of numerous witness, in broad daylight in SF City Hall. He got involuntary manslaughter, too.

    But you know what?

    Karma is real.

    There is only so much of this kind of nonsense that can ‘go around’ before it starts to come back around again.

    The scales are about to be balanced.

    Ancestor-Warrior Oscar Grant III’s life was not lost in vain. It was already precious to his family. Now his struggle and sacrifice and that of his family is known around the world.


    (The Struggle Continues
    Together We Will Win)

    War Without Terms,

    1. CPK

      Saw the video before I even posted on here. No one deserves to die the way he did. No way that cop popped him on purpose. Involuntary manslaughter was the correct verdict. You put yourself in bad situations bad things happen. Plain and simple. Those cops were scared. How can you compare the Harvey Milk murder to this? Harvey Milk was sought out and killed. There was no mistake there. This cop blew it and shot a kid instead of using his taser on him. Harvey Milk was a great and courageous man who stood for something positive. From what everyone reports on Grant he had some work to do as a human being. Its apples and oranges. Be a better parent. Teach respect to all walks of life. Racism towards anyone these days is wrong!

  7. stop hate

    If you look at the policelink website and the forums you will see the most hateful and vile things said about Grant. This is a police related website with police officers commenting on various stories

    In reference to the Grant shooting, officers in these forums call Grant horrible names. They call for Mehserle to be given no prison time and even call him the victim.

    Just as example of the hate found in these forums by police officers is the following comments made by a policelink member under the profile name of Robocop33.

  8. stop hate

    Robocop33 calls Grant a POS (Piece Of Shit) and a gang banger.

    Robocop33 makes the following comments

    "I agree that this former Officer should get the minimum and hopefully probation. There was nothing intentional in this and he was just trying to do his job and screwed up big time. As someone else said, he probably should not have become a LEO but he did. Blame that on the hiring and weeding out process. The fact that the Officer happened to be white and the POS was black has, or should have nothing to do with it at all. The POS was a gang-banger with a long rap sheet and involved in basically inciting a riot as there were three or more people fighting. He then actively resisted arrest and was fighting with Officers when this young and inexperienced Officer grabbed the wrong pistol. I also saw tapes of this incident and there were at least two gang-bangers there with weapons, one being a plainly seen stub-nose pistol. In the totality of this incident it is really this Officer who is the victim."


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