Kelly Rayburn and Sean Maher, Oakland Tribune, January 13, 2009
Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer accused of shooting and killing an unarmed man New Year’s Day, was arrested at 6:20 p.m. Tuesday on a murder charge in Nevada, officials confirmed.
Witnesses say Mehserle, 27, killed Oscar Grant III, 22, at an Oakland BART station in the early morning of Jan. 1, in a shooting that prompted massive protests after videos of the incident surfaced and were shown on television and on the Web.
Mehserle is being held in Douglas County, Nevada, on a no-bail warrant, law-enforcement officials said. Because he was arrested in Nevada, Mehserle will face an extradition hearing before returning to Alameda County, a process which could take at least a few days.
The jail staff reports Mehserle has been cooperative and is housed in a segregated area of the facility and on a “precautionary health and welfare watch.”
Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff is expected to discuss the arrest further today. Mehserle had been moving from place to place in recent days as he faced numerous death threats. He was reportedly arrested without incident.
“The family will certainly be relieved that the (district attorney) has made some effort to bring him to justice,” said John Burris, an attorney who is representing Grant’s family in a $25 million claim against BART. “This is terrific. This is a very important step in healing the community.”
Oakland assistant police chief Howard Jordan said he hoped news of the arrest would calm tensions among the more than 1,000 people expected to protest the shooting today.
“We’re hoping that people act civilly and they take this recent action as a sign the (district attorney) was committed to doing (the) job and moving forward with a complete, thorough and unbiased investigation,” Jordan said.
Earlier Tuesday, Mayor Ron Dellums said he understands the anger people feel, but said taking anger out on people who had nothing to do with the shooting is an injustice in its own right.
[Editor’s Note: The story of the Oakland riots can be read here.]