t has been 674 days since 22-year-old Oscar Grant III was murdered on a subway platform in Oakland, Calif., by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle. On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry decided that Grant’s life was worth 24 months as he sentenced Mehserle to a blink behind bars. Mehserle will also receive 292 days credit for time already served behind bars.
“Where is the accountability?” asked Cat Brooks, co-chair of the ONYX Organizing Committee, prior to the sentencing. “The verdict was unjust so the sentence will be unjust. And we are angry about it. We are tired of burying our children and we are tired of the open season on black men in this country by police who are then returned to their families with a slap on the wrist.”
His pre-emptive anger was clearly justified. Experts said Judge Perry probably already knew what sentence he would impose, but the pleas made by both sides would not go unnoticed. Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, cried as she gave a victim impact statement during the sentencing.
“Those statements can be very persuasive and my sense is you will see some very emotional testimony from both sides in that courtroom,” said Steven Clark, a San Francisco Bay area defense attorney and former prosecutor who has followed the case.
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