The verdict of the Johannes Mehserle trial came in. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Guilty – yes. Involuntary manslaughter – no.
For those of you who may not know, Johannes Mehserle is a former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer who shot Oscar Grant in the back while lying face-down on the Oakland subway platform. How is that involuntary? Where is the justice? Did the jury really believe this trained police officer’s story that he thought he had pulled his taser? Even if it was a mistake (which I don’t buy), why would he have even needed a taser?
At some point, police brutality and misconduct needs to be addressed. I firmly believe that police officers should live in the communities they protect and serve. They should be community stakeholders and invested in the wellbeing of the communities. They should not be people who react and respond out of malice or even fear because they aren’t in tune with those areas.
Now I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding Mehserle and his employment with BART. I do know, however, that it’s a downright shame that a police officer can be caught on video shooting an unarmed man who is lying face-down on the floor in the back and not be charged or convicted of murder. This crime was indeed NOT involuntary. It was reckless, unnecessary, and senseless.
I hope that in the aftermath of the Mehserle verdict, the riots cease and that community leaders, along with community members, start really considering strategic implementation of efforts to prevent such travesties. We have to protect, not destroy, our communities. Reactionary, unproductive violence is definitely not the answer.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21