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July 7, 2010
District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announces that the Los Angeles jury in the case of People v. Johannes Mehserle returned a guilty verdict of involuntary manslaughter against the defendant.
The jury also found true the allegation that the defendant used a gun and rejected the defense that the defendant believed he was using his taser. The verdict reflects that the killing was unlawful and done with criminal negligence and recklessness.
Ms. O’Malley makes the following statement: A criminal trial is a search for the truth. Prosecutor Dave Stein and the entire trial prosecution team did the best job possible in presenting the case. While the jury rejected the defense contention that the defendant be relieved of criminal liability, it nevertheless did not agree with the prosecution’s belief that Oscar Grant was murdered by Johannes Mehserle. The District Attorney filed charges of murder against the defendant. This decision to charge a sworn officer with murder was based on all the evidence the prosecution believed supported the most serious charge.
The prosecution team has worked on this case for more than 18 months, and for the last two months, 15 dedicated District Attorney staff, under the leadership of Prosecutor Dave Stein, relocated to Los Angeles and worked 7 days a week while conducting the trial in Los Angeles. The District Attorney dedicated all resources needed by the prosecution team to ensure a just verdict. The Prosecutors fought hard, always with the goal of justice and truth. All evidence was presented to the jury and they ultimately decided the outcome. While it is not the verdict sought, the District Attorney’s Office respects the role of jurors, respects the criminal justice process and ultimately, respects and accepts the jury’s verdict. The District Attorney’s Office fulfilled its Mission with dignity; I am both thankful to and extremely proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Prosecutor Dave Stein and each member of the District Attorney’s office who put justice first and ahead of themselves. We have the highest respect for a judicial system that strives to protect the innocent, hold accountable the guilty and ensure that victims’ rights are upheld.
The case is a tragedy in every respect. Oscar Grant should never have been killed at the hands of a sworn officer. But, let us not allow the actions of one former officer dictate how we as a community move forward. In Alameda County there are more than 1,500 upstanding members of the law enforcement who dedicate their lives every day to protecting our citizens and our communities by upholding and enforcing the laws. Oscar Grant’s death has created a stronger platform for ongoing dialogue in our community so that we shall grow from this tragedy and we shall be a better community, with better communication and a greater understanding of each other and those profound issues that impact our safety and our lives.
As evidenced by this prosecution, the District Attorney’s Office discharges its duty fairly, regardless of who is the perpetrator of the crime. We join other community leaders who are calling for peace after this long trial. Our profound condolence goes out to the family of Oscar Grant. He shall not have died in vain. His memory can be best honored through open, forthright and candid communication without being steered by violence, judgment or hatred. I urge those in our community to use their voices in a nonviolent manner. Let their important message not be lost in violence.