OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—The uncle of Oscar Grant, the unarmed Black man fatally shot by Johannes Mehserle, has harsh words to describe a letter of apology written by the former transit police officer.
Speaking outside Oakland’s True Vine Baptist church Saturday night, Cephus Johnson, rejected the letter released July 9 terming it a “ploy.”
Johnson said he and the Grant family didn’t believe the words in Mehserle’s handwritten note, claiming that it was nothing more than an attempt to gain sympathy from the judge before sentencing.
“He can write the letter after he spends 14 years in prison,” Johnson said.
Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, was also at the church July 10, but declined to comment.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter by a Los Angeles jury July 8 for the fatal shooting of Grant, 22, on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train platform on New Year’s Day 2009. Mehserle testified that he mistakenly pulled out his pistol instead of a stun gun.
Prosecutors had pushed for a murder conviction. The conviction on a lesser charge sparked a wave of protests in downtown Oakland, resulting in damage to about 30 businesses and the arrests of dozens of people.
In a handwritten letter released Friday, Mehserle suggested a possible prison term wouldn’t be his only punishment for killing Grant.
He said he will forever “live, breathe, sleep and not sleep” with the memory of Grant dying on the train platform and “knowing that Mr. Grant should not have been shot.”
Mehserle, 28, remains in custody pending sentencing.
Involuntary manslaughter convictions call for two to four years in prison, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry could tack on an additional three to 10 years because a gun was used in the killing.