Lee Urges Federal Action in Mehserle Verdict

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) has called for a thorough and expeditious review of the Johannes Mehserle murder trial by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Mehserle, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday in the Jan. 1, 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant III.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder dated July 13, 2010, Congresswoman Lee formally requested “an inquiry into the events surrounding the People of the State of California v. Johannes Mehserle.”
The congresswoman emphasized the importance of investigating these events.  “While I understand this is a state criminal matter,” she said, “ certain issues surrounding this case seem to invite further examination by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
“The Mehserle case involved the shooting of a 22-year-old African-American male, by a Caucasian Bay Area Rapid Transit (“BART”) police officer in January of 2009,” the Congresswoman continued. “Given the ongoing tensions between African-American communities, communities of color and law enforcement, care must be taken to ensure that civil rights statutes are properly enforced and positive relationships between these communities and law enforcement are forged.
Congresswoman Lee joined John Burris, the attorney for the Grant family, and Oakland Mayor Ronald V. Dellums in urging a swift and expeditious investigation into the matter by the DOJ. Burris sent a letter on Tuesday requesting an independent inquiry by the DOJ.
“I stand with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the Grant family in urging a federal inquiry into to death of Oscar Grant,” Mayor Dellums said. “I have been very honest and candid since the outset of this trial that I would be a resource and an advocate in this matter. Like Congresswoman Lee, I strongly believe that federal intervention in this matter is warranted.”