Last night, California jurors found Officer Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant. Mehserle, a white BART police officer, shot and killed Grant, an unarmed black train passenger, early in the morning on New Year's Day, 2009. The video of the shooting, caught on cellphone camera, instantly went viral on the internet and led to massive rioting in the city of Oakland. Though Oakland residents demanded to see a guilty verdict, many had hoped Mehserle would be convicted on stronger charges: either second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. John Burris, who represented Oscar Grant’s family, said relatives were “extraordinarily disappointed” by what he called a “true compromise verdict.”
We talk with Jack Leonard, a reporter with the Los Angeles Times who was in the courtroom when the verdict was announced. We also talk with freelance reporter Bob Butler, who has been following the controversy from Oakland.