Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant III
By Christine Schofelt
Â© World Socialist Web Site
31 July 2013
Many viewers walk into a showing of Ryan Cooglerâ€™s first feature-length film, Fruitvale Station, already knowing the story of Oscar Grant IIIâ€™s murder by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer Johannes Mehserle in the early morning hours of January 1, 2009. The shooting of the unarmed 22-year-old father as he lay face down on the platform at the transit station that gives the film its name was recorded by multiple witnesses and uploaded to YouTube, sparking demonstrations.
Mehserle claimed the shooting was an accident and that he had intended to taser the prone young man instead. Given the difference in weight, carrying location and safety locks that have to be disengaged on the weapons, this is highly unlikely. Mehserleâ€™s 2010 travesty of a trial was moved to Los Angeles. Black jurors were excluded from the jury and paid expert witnesses were called by the prosecution. The judge instructed the jury that it could not consider a charge of first-degree murder.
Mehserle was acquitted of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter charges, and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The judge gave him a two-year sentence, and with time served Mehserle was released after 11 months …