LOS ANGELES -- A jury found former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle guilty Thursday of involuntary manslaughter, concluding that he did not intend to kill train rider Oscar Grant when he shot him in the back on New Year's Day 2009 but acted so recklessly that he showed a disregard for Grant's life.This was a strange story. On January 1, 2009, BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle attempted to stop a fight between two BART passengers. Mehserle testified that he attempted to tase one of the passengers, Oscar Grant, of Oakland. Instead of grabbing his taser he grabbed his gun instead and shot Grant in the back, killing him. Mehserle held that the shooting was an accident, made in the haste of the moment.
Officer Mehserle is white and Oscar Grant was black. Grant's family and much of the black community in Oakland were hoping for a 2nd degree murder conviction and were disappointed when they didn't get it. Oakland Police were put on standby in the event of riots over the verdict. So far, protests are said to be "mostly peaceful."
No doubt the Left will call Grant's accidental death a case of racism, and black people will continue to believe that their group is unfairly targeted by the police. However, few people want to discuss the unpleasant statistical reality that most of the violent crime in the United States is committed by blacks. Most of the cops killed in the line of duty are slain by black assailants.
In the past two years, four white Oakland Police officers were murdered by a black criminal; more recently, another four white Police Officers were murdered in Washington state by another black criminal. Police are more wary of blacks due to this knowledge: in a confrontation, if the suspect is black, he is statistically more likely to kill you. I wish it were otherwise, but wishing won't change things.
I wondered what the statistics would tell us about cops killed in the line of duty. What percentage of those deaths were from a black perpetrator?
I looked it up at the FBI website. In 2008, 40 police officers died in the line of duty. 30 of these officers were white, or 75%. 21 of the 40 assailants were black, or 53%. The latter percentage should be compared to the fact that only 12% of the population is black. These recent statistics confirm my argument in the second prior paragraph. If you are a white police officer, the criminal who kills you is likely to be black.
Could that unpleasant reality have been a factor in the Oscar Grant tragedy? Did Mehserle, in fear of his own life, make the tragic mistake in a panic? How many cops have died when a black suspect made a similar decision in a moment of panic? I suspect that the latter case has happened a lot more than the former.
In any case, I agree with the verdict, which seems fair in the circumstances. I can only hope that the sentence will also be fair, and not some draconian abortion of justice merely to placate the violent black underclass of Oakland, California. Mehserle should be given the same sentence he would get had Oscar Grant been white. I doubt, however, that will be the case.
Update: It didn't take long for the "mostly peaceful" demonstrations to turn violent. American Power has the story here.