Jury selection began Monday in a federal civil rights case brought by a man who said he was roughed up by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in 2009. The incident allegedly took place just seven weeks before Mehserle would go on to shoot Oscar Grant.
Mehserle, 29, served just under one year of a two-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of Grant, who was unarmed and killed on New Year’s Day. The “San Francisco Chronicle” reports Mehserle plans to attend the trial and testify that he acted to protect a fellow officer.
Kenneth Carrethers, 43, is seeking damages against Mehserle and four other BART officers in connection with a late-night encounter at the Coliseum/Oakland Airport Station on Nov. 15, 2008. By all accounts, Carrethers, whose car had recently been burglarized outside BART, berated the crew of officers as useless.
In court filings, attorneys for Carrethers said Mehserle grabbed their client from behind and took him to the ground with a leg sweep. The officers then punched and kicked Carrethers before fastening his arms and legs together and carrying him off “by the strap of the hog tie,” wrote attorney Christopher Dolan.
Carrethers said Mehserle and another officer drove him to the hospital to be seen for facial bruises and a sore shoulder. During the ride, Carrethers said Mehserle turned around and said, “Well, have you learned not to mess with police officers?”
Carrethers, who had been heading to his Oakland home from his job as a building engineer at a San Francisco hotel, was charged with resisting arrest. The charges were dropped after the Grant shooting.
BART plans to present a very different account of the incident as it fights the case on behalf of Mehserle and officers Robert Haney, Douglas Horner, Frederick Guanzon and Keith Smith. The other officers still work for the agency.
Mehserle’s police report filed after the incident says he only grabbed Carrethers wrist to keep him from striking another officer.