Thursday, June 4, 2009

Infamous ex-Cop Charged with Murder

A California judge ruled that former San Francisco transit cop Johannes Mehserle will face a murder trial. For those who may have forgotten, Mehserle was the police officer who appeared on video shooting an unarmed, face-down man in the back on New Years Day, killing him. The video was all over the internet. His attorney argued that he only meant to taser the victim, and accidentally pulled his gun instead. But the judge didn't buy it. He said,
"There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun and not a Taser."
Even without hearing the witnesses, Mehserle's claim is difficult to believe. He didn't know where he had his own gun & taser holstered? This wasn't some sort of shoot-out in the dark where that kind of confusion might be explained by the chaos of combat. But let's pretend that's what actually happened. He grabbed the taser by mistake. Even that illustrates a huge problem with police use of tasers. If you have someone face-down on the ground, how is shocking him with a taser justified? If he's resisting, so what? How about just subduing him without blasting him with electricity? Is it too much to ask that a trained police officer be able to restrain someone in such a position without resorting to a potentially lethal weapon?

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