DOJ Prepared to Examine Oscar Grant Case

Now that Mehserle's been sentenced, the Justice Department weighs further action.

By Julianne Hing Nov 08, 2010

Since ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s sentencing last Friday, Oscar Grant supporters angry at a criminal justice system that seems to have abandoned their efforts to bring about justice have been ramping up their actions to demand institutional recognition and accountability for Grant’s death.

First on advocates’ list of demands has been to call on Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the case and prosecute Mehserle in federal court. An online petition that was initiated this summer with those demands has been revived again in recent weeks. So far the petition has 393 signatures.

The Department of Justice has heard people’s complaints, and is examining the details of the case.

"The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California have been closely monitoring the local prosecution of this case," the Department of Justice said in a statement after Friday’s sentencing.

"Now that the state prosecution has concluded and consistent with Department policy, we will thoroughly review the prosecution and its underlying investigation to determine whether further action is appropriate."

Mehserle, a 28-year-old white transit police officer received a two-year prison sentence for killing the 22-year-old black man on New Year’s Day 2009. Mehserle shot the unarmed Grant in the back while he lay face down with his arms behind his back.

After Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter this summer, the least serious of the charges he faced, the DOJ promised to open an independent review of the case.

The Justice Department would not give a time frame for when the independent review would be completed.