LOS ANGELES (AP) —  A judge has sentenced a white former transit officer to two years in prison in the shooting death of an unarmed black man on a California train platform.

The sentence by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry was significantly less than the possible 14-year maximum term for Johannes Mehserle.

When Perry issued his sentence, the mother of victim Oscar Grant shouted, “Oh my!”

Perry, however, threw out a gun enhancement that could have added 10 years in prison and said there was overwhelming evidence indicating it was an accidental shooting.

Lawyers for Mehserle argued the gun enhancement was written into law to punish robbers and other armed criminals.

Mehserle was convicted in July of involuntary manslaughter in the videotaped, New Year’s Day 2009 killing of 22-year-old Grant in Oakland.

Perry had wide discretion when sentencing the 28-year-old Mehserle.

Prosecutors sought prison time for Mehserle, whose lawyers argued for probation.

Mehserle testified during the trial that he thought Grant had a weapon and decided to shock him with his stun gun but instead pulled his .40-caliber handgun. Grant was unarmed and face down when he was shot.

The incident let to rioting shortly after the shooting.

Sentencing came after the family of Grant urged a judge to impose the maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

Four relatives of victim Oscar Grant and his fiancee pleaded with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry to order Mehserle to prison for 14 years.

Wanda Johnson, Grant’s mother, cried as she gave a victim impact statement.

“I live every day of my life in pain,” she said. “My son is not here because of a careless action.”

The family continues to maintain that it was murder when Mehserle shot Grant.

Mehserle was a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer responding to a report of a fight.

Mehserle, shackled and wearing a jail jumpsuit, also stood before the judge before sentencing and apologized for the shooting, which he contended was accidental and not racially motivated.

“I want to say how deeply sorry I am,” Mehserle said.

“Nothing I ever say or do will heal the wound. I will always be sorry for taking Mr. Grant from them.”

He also cried during portions of his 10-minute statement.

Earlier, the judge said he had received more than 1,000 letters urging a harsh sentence.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (15)
  1. TCB1 says:

    Race has nothing to do with it. The man took another man’s life…..whoemever you you shoot and kill….the blood is still red!

  2. Will says:

    How can anyone believe this Policeman didn’t know he had his service weapon in his hand? For one.. A Taser only weighs ounces (it’s plastic) while a Gun can weigh a pound and the feel is totally different. Also from what I’ve seen they are worn on different sides of their belts. He should be put under the jail. Point blank period.

    1. Raul says:

      Police-issue taseres are about the same size as a semi-automatic 9mm pistol, have a similar grip and feel, and weigh about the same. Check it out:


  3. Bill Jones says:

    Well, at least justice was served in this case. Sad situation though.

  4. yvonne says:

    My heart goes out to his parents & child. My heart truley hurts. Justice was not served. Taser or gun there was no excuse for neither, he was face down on the ground.

  5. John E. says:

    It was an accident!! 1 year probation is good enough.

    1. TheTruth 323 says:

      Probation, are you kidding me?

    2. chris says:

      I agree! It sure is enough! None of the commentors on here are police officers…dont know that IN THE MOMENT…not knowing if he’s armed or not…fearing for your own life..u do what your trained to do…minimize the suspect…he grabbed the wrong weapon on accident via “in the moment” and it was an accident.

  6. Brandy says:

    It was an unfortunate accident, people. No matter what color the guy was, he was obviously in the middle of doing something unlawful — not exactly an innocent bystander. The cop’s sentence was too harsh if you ask me — I would’ve given him probation.

  7. Neal says:

    It’s Obama’s fault

  8. Johnny Wishbone says:

    It’s Grants (and Obama’s) fault! Loser shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place!

  9. TCB1 says:

    Freedom of speech should be taken away from some of you idiots! If it were your kid 6 feet under because of an “accident” I guess probation would be good enough for you too huh? I have family members on the police force and they don’t train to pull the wrong weapon “in the moment” or otherwise. Get a clue people.

    1. El Gringo says:

      Should we arrest every person who accidentially kills someone during a car accident? Unfortunate incidents like this one happen. It is a sad case for both sides. It was not pre meditated murder.

  10. john says:

    TCB1 get a clue, stay safe in your house n watch the world from the safety of ur computer

  11. Johnny Wishbone says:

    TCB1 probably has to stay in his house. He’s probably on house arrest with the rest of his ghetto buddies!!!!!

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