Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle has spent the past 10 months in a Los Angeles jail, and after serving less than a year of his two year sentence for involuntary manslaughter, the former BART police officer turned inmate is expected to soon walk free.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tells ABC7 Mehserle is tentatively scheduled for a June 1 court date. That is when a judge will likely credit him for time served and good behavior. The Corrections Department says Mehserle could be released as early as the middle of June.
The family of Oscar Grant, the unarmed man Mehserle shot and killed, calls it a slap in the face.
“It would be very painful emotionally just to see him not behind bars and the fact that he is now seeking employment in Northern California,” Oscar Grant’s uncle Cephus Johnson said.
The criminal trial for the New Year’s Day 2009 shooting at the Fruitvale BART station ended last year, but the $50 million dollar civil suit filed by Grant’s family still moves forward. Tuesday, a U.S. district court judge ordered the transit agency dropped from the list of defendants, but individual officers like Mehserle remain named in the suit.
“We will continue to make improvements to our police dept to avoid something like this from happening again,” BART Board of Directors President Bob Franklin said.
Grant’s family attorney says BART would still cover damages a judge or jury awards.
“From our point of view this case was always about Pirone and Mehserle,” John Burris said.
The U.S. Department of Justice has not finished its separate investigation into whether Grant’s civil rights were violated. Mehserle could still face a federal trial.
On a “Free Johannes Mehserle” Facebook page, his supporters continue to speak out. That includes his father, who in a post offered a glimpse of what his son’s release will be like. Todd Mehserle wrote, “Johannes is in very good spirits and is looking forward to this summer and freedom.”
The case that has already caused so many protests could still bring more when Mehserle is released.
“The community right now strategizing and considering different activities for that date,” Johnson said.
Oakland police say they have not heard about any specific protests, but given the history and feelings surrounding the case, police say they will be prepared.