I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled fluff to express my profound disappointment with yesterday’s verdict in the Johannes Meserle trial.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the case, Johannes Meserle killed Oscar Grant, an unarmed man, on the platform of my former BART station last New Year’s Day. Mr. Grant was on his stomach, helpless and handcuffed, when Mr. Meserle, then a BART policeman, shot him in the back.

Mr. Meserle has claimed that he thought he was Tasering Mr. Grant. Mr. Meserle is right-handed, and the gun was holstered on his right, the Taser on the left. And a trained police officer who can’t tell a Taser from a gun, especially when discharging the weapon, should not be on the force.

The whole incident was caught on tape, just like the Rodney King beating almost twenty years ago. And in both cases, the jurors seemed to be unable to come up with a verdict which served justice.

I guess the fact that Mr. Meserle was convicted of anything is a small victory. But it’s too small. He will be sentenced next month to five to fifteen years for “involuntary manslaughter”, though I agree with the District Attorney that his actions were nothing less than second degree murder. I find it especially heinous that it was an officer of the law committing this crime, and I also believe that there was a racial element at play, Mr. Meserle being white and Mr. Grant being African American. Racial epithets were used and caught on tape, as well as heard by eyewitnesses.

There were no African American jurors.

The justice system, like many things, mystifies me. How could Aaron Vargas, of whom I wrote recently in another break from fluffiness, been handed a sentence of nine years in San Quentin for killing the man who had sexually and emotionally abused and terrorized him since he was a young boy, while Mr. Meserle may serve as little as three years? It’s pretty clear which of these two men is a menace to society.

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3 thoughts on “Injustice

  1. Words defeat me… have really written this article well….wish I could be so articulate.
    There are so many injustices in this world and unfortunately most will never be known.


  2. I agree it’s so unfortunate that our justice system can be so unfair to some but I must say that we are better off than many other countries where no justice of any kind exist, this does not justify certain decisions but gives us some hope.

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