Friday, January 9, 2009
27-year-old transit officer Johannes Mehserle has avoided cooperating with an internal investigation into the shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant by turning in his resignation.
Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) has received threats against Mehserle's life since he was seen on evening news stations and on the Internet shooting Grant while he was lying face-down and unarmed early Jan. 1 after a night of New Year celebration. Many have called for Mehserle's resignation and arrest, calling the shooting a cold-blooded murder.
Mehserle was scheduled to meet with an Internal Affairs investigator today, but instead resigned. Mehserle has not spoken to anyone about why he fired his weapon, but some BART officials had speculated that he might have mistaken his gun for his taser as he made the arrest.
The situation promises to get worse before it gets better.
In some ways, you feel bad for the other transit cops. It's going to be rough for them for a while, but the outrage is certainly justified. As bad as things will be for them, it's even worse to let a murder pass without incident (if it was a murder).
Unfortunately, it creates a situation of mutual fear. Passengers (particularly minority passengers) fear the BART cops and the BART cops fear passengers angry over the shooting. And out of that fear, more violence could transpire. For instance, a bart cop afraid of being targeted/cornered by a group of passengers might end up trying to make an arrest, and if I were one of those passengers, you better believe I'd be thinking twice before I get on the ground and put my hands behind my back.
The whole thing's a powder keg, and with protests planned, it could blow up into rioting.