OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Police on Wednesday arrested the transit police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man on New Year’s Day and charged him with murder, as protests in Oakland continued.
Johannes Mehserle waived extradition after being arrested in Minden, Nev., southwest of Lake Tahoe, where he went because he feared for his safety after death threats had been made against him, according to news reports.
Mehserle allegedly shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant in the back as he lay on a station platform early on New Year’s Day. The incident was recorded by cell phone camera and has been viewed repeatedly on YouTube.
The incident began when Bay Area Rapid Transit officers were called about a fight on a train around 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The officers stopped the train at the Fruitvale Station.
The scene, caught on video by at least two BART riders, grew more intense as passengers screamed in anger at the officers from the stopped train. Mehserle then allegedly shot Grant; the bullet went through him, hit the platform and re-entered his body. Grant was taken to a hospital, where he died that morning.
Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said Wednesday that Mehserle had been charged with murder because the evidence showed that Grant was the victim of an “unlawful, intentional killing.”
The Wednesday arrest came after two days of protests last week in Oakland and another one this week in San Francisco. Protesters broke windows and set fire to trash cans, Dumpsters and a police car. A fourth protest, in Oakland on Wednesday, brought out a crowd estimated at more than 1,000. It began peacefully but ended with windows being smashed in cars and businesses.
Wednesday’s demonstration began at City Hall and continued to the Alameda County Courthouse, where the protestors demanded Orloff’s resignation for perceived delays in the case. The group returned to City Hall, some carrying a coffin. Protesters prayed peacefully, then most went home. A lingering group broke car and storefront windows as rally organizers pleaded with them to stop, according to media reports.