The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to hear the case against a former Bay Area transit officer who was convicted in Los Angeles of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed man during a confrontation at an Oakland train station.
The state’s highest court denied a defense petition seeking its review of the case against Johannes Mehserle, who was convicted of the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant at the BART station in Fruitvale.
On June 8, a three-justice panel from California’s 1st District Court of Appeal found “sufficient evidence to sustain the involuntary manslaughter conviction.”
“The jury was given ample evidence to support its verdict that, on New Year’s Day 2009, on the Fruitvale BART platform, defendant acted with criminal negligence by drawing and firing his handgun instead of his Taser under the circumstances presented to him,” the justices found.
The appellate court panel also rejected the defense’s contention that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry erred by denying Mehserle probation and sentencing him to two years in state prison.
The case–which inflamed racial tensions in the Bay Area–was moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse because of extensive pre-trial publicity in northern California.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, rather than the murder charge sought by prosecutors.
During his trial, the White former officer testified that he inadvertently grabbed his gun instead of his Taser stun weapon while trying to subdue Grant, who was Black.
Mehserle was convicted in July 2010 and released from custody in June 2011, amid protests from Grant’s family and their supporters.