Angry mobs smashed windows and set small fires in downtown Oakland Thursday night, their rage sparked by a white transit cop's conviction of a lesser charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a subway station New Year's Day 2009.For reasons clearly stated in this website's FAQ, I don't do "police brutality stories" here at AB.com, but I'm making an exception to the rule today.
The rioting and looting started hours after former police officer Johannes Mehersle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Oscar Grant was shot in the back while laying face-down on a subway platform. Mehersle dodged the more severe charge of second degree murder.
Mehersle faces a prison sentence of two to four years. Grant's family members were outraged at the verdict, with an uncle saying the family had "been slapped in the face" by the justice system.
During the trial, prosecutors said Mehersle, 28, who was responding to a fight on the subway platform, was angry that Grant, 22, resisted arrest. The former officer said he accidentally drew his .40-caliber handgun, wanting instead to pull out his Taser. At least five bystanders filmed the incident.
The three-week trial was held in Los Angeles because of riots in Oakland following the shooting. Eight women and four men sat on the jury, none of whom listed their race as black.
Weigh in with your thoughts below.
Question: Is this a fair verdict? Would a jury with some black folks have likely resulted in a different sentence? What (if anything) can black people take away from this tragic incident? What (if anything) can white people take away from this tragic incident?
Oakland shooting verdict sparks riots after Johannes Mehserle dodges murder rap in Oscar Grant death [NY Daily News]