Witness says BART cop looked shocked after shooting
By Terry Collins
OAKLAND, Calif. — Several witnesses to the fatal train station shooting of an unarmed man testified Tuesday that the officer accused of killing him looked surprised and shocked after he pulled the trigger.
College student Tommy Cross Jr., who recorded video of the New Year's Day shooting, said former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer Johannes Mehserle "looked up and said, `Oh, my God! Oh my God!" after the shot rang out.
Cross was testifying for the prosecution at a hearing to determine whether Mehserle will stand trial for killing Oscar Grant. Grant, 22, was shot on the platform after transit police were called to the station over reports of fighting on the train.
Mehserle has pleaded not guilty, and according to his attorney, intended to grab his stun gun when he accidentally pulled his pistol.
The preliminary hearing began Monday and prosecutors finished presenting their evidence on Tuesday.
Among those who testified Tuesday was Grant's longtime friend, who told the packed courtroom that moments before Grant was shot he had wrestled with another man he knew aboard the train.
Jamil Dewar, 16, said it was a scuffle, not a fight, that lasted a few minutes. He helped break it up just before the train stopped.
Dewar said after he and another friend got off the train, transit Officer Anthony Pirone angrily came toward them. He said he jumped back on the train as the officer pointed a stun gun at passengers.
"He said, `Get out of the train! I know who you are,'" Dewar recounted. "He was saying, `Get the (expletive) off the train!'"
Dewar said he began recording with his cell phone camera when he saw police had Grant and others up against a platform wall.
"It was craziness over there. It wasn't a regular day," Dewar testified. "So I started recording."
Dewar's was one of five witness videos shown over the first two days of the hearing, which could last through next week. All showed parts of the shooting.
Cross, like several of the witnesses, said he felt the officers acted inappropriately and unprofessionally when handling Grant and his friends, but under defense cross-examination, they did not single out Mehserle as the most aggressive officer on the platform.
Cross said he and his friends and other passengers on the train were in shock after Grant was shot.
"I kept saying, `They shot him! They shot him!'" Cross recalled.
Another witness, Daniel Liu, who sold his video for $1,000 to a local TV station, testified he recorded the shooting through an open train door because he thought police were out of line.
He said there was a brief period of calm when Grant knelt in front of the officers and Pirone and Mehserle moved in to handcuff him. Liu said Mehserle then grabbed his gun with his right hand, stood up, placed both hands around his weapon and shot Grant.
Liu told Mehserle's attorney, Michael Rains, it didn't look like Grant was resisting, but he didn't know for sure.
The defense was scheduled to begin presenting its case Wednesday.