LOS ANGELES — The attorney representing former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle said Friday he was not surprised by a jury's decision finding his client guilty of involuntary manslaughter for killing Oscar Grant III early Jan. 1, 2009.
"I'm disappointed about it, but at the same time, I know how juries think, and I understand the reality of a tragic death that should not have occurred, and they wanted to find someone responsible," Michael Rains said. "I'm disappointed, but not deeply shocked."
Rains, who has made a career at defending police officers, said he always feared that the jury would find his client guilty of some crime even if it believed Mehserle mistook his gun for his Taser when he shot unarmed Grant.
Rains said any jury deciding the case would have trouble allowing Mehserle to go free because the end result of the events on the Fruitvale BART station platform in Oakland resulted in a man being killed.
"You have a death, you can't ignore the fact that a man who should not have been shot was shot and a man who should not have died, died," he said.
However, Rains said, he still believes his client should have been acquitted.
One of the key pieces of evidence presented during the trial, he said, was the fact that BART failed to properly train its officers on the use of a Taser. That lack of training prevented Mehserle from properly being prepared to use his Taser in a stressful situation. As a result, Rains said, his client made a fateful mistake that caused a death.
But that mistake, Rains said, was not criminally negligent. Mehserle did not ignore the training he had, Rains argued; instead he simply didn't have enough training.
"They found him negligent, and they must have found him criminally negligent," Rains said. "I'm still surprised by that."
Rains said he will make a similar argument to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry when Mehserle is sentenced later this year.
"Our argument to Judge Perry is going to be there was no negligence in the case," Rains said.
Rains said he will also argue that Perry should dismiss the jury's decision that found Mehserle guilty of a gun enhancement.
Although Perry scheduled that sentencing for Aug. 6, Rains said he asked and was granted a postponement of the sentencing to allow him more time to prepare for arguments.
A new date for sentencing has not been scheduled, Rains said.