Attorneys defending the officer on trial for fatally shooting an unarmed Black man in California claim that their client had “little stun gun training” before he “accidentally” shot and killed the victim.
Johannes Mehserle is still on trial for the New Year’s Day 2009 death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant at an Oakland train platform.
Mehserle, a former Bay Area Rapid Transit officer, claims that he meant to use his stun gun on Grant but accidentally pulled out his gun and shot him in his back as he lay on the floor.
Defense witness Stewart Lehman says the former BART officer had “little” stun gun training prior to the incident and in fact had taken a class on how to use it in December 2008, about a month before the incident.
Lehman, a Bart Officer, says Mehserle learned how the stun gun worked and was given three scenarios in which the weapon could be used.
It was also noted in court that Mehserle wore his stun gun on his left side and would have to reach across his body with his dominant right hand or use his left hand to operate it instead.
Prosecutors say that he knew the difference between the stun gun and his weapon and intentionally shot Grant because officers were “losing control of the situation.”
Deputy District Attorney David Stein showed a video in his opening statement that showed Mehserle would have to push down and forward on a holster hood then pull back a lever in order to release his handgun.
He then had Officer Lehman demonstrate how an officer would pull out a taser.
Lehman told jurors that an officer would have to unsnap a safety button with the thumb moving sideways and then push the holster hood forward before drawing the weapon.
Footage taken by bystanders shows Mehserle taking out his handgun and placing both hands on it before firing.
When the D.A. asked Lehman if officers are trained to use both hands when firing a hand gun, he responded:
“That’s an option they can use.”