*The family of Oscar Grant III spoke out Saturday about the involuntary manslaughter verdict in the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle, the former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer who shot and killed the unarmed young man.
Mehserle maintains that he thought his gun was a taser when he shot the 22-year-old on New Years Day 2009.
In a July 4 apology letter to Grant’s family, Mehserle stated: “For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep, and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming ‘You shot me’ and putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him ‘You’ll be okay!’”
Mehserle continued: “I have and will continue to live everyday of my life knowing that Mr. Grant should not have been shot. It saddens me knowing that my actions cost Mr. Grant his life, no words express how truly sorry I am.”
Standing alongside faith-based leaders in Oakland, Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson said the letter was phony and timed to get a sympathetic response from the court prior to sentencing.
“This is a letter that was purposely designed to influence the judge as well as the jurors to bring about what he got,” said Johnson. “Sadly to say, we’re not buying it as a letter of apology to us, and the public does not believe it as we don’t.”
Johnson told reporters and churchgoers at the True Vine Baptist Church that the family has been strategizing toward a federal civil rights prosecution of Mehserle.
“So let it be clear that the Department of Justice will get involved in this case,” Johnson said reassuringly.
As for the damage to the 100 Oakland businesses following the verdict Thursday night, Oakland Minister Keith Muhammad said certain actions are permissible.
“When justice is not served there is an anger that God permits in the heart of those who have suffered injustice,” claimed Muhammad.