According to CNN, police are bracing for riots in Oakland, California as a verdict nears in a racially-charged murder trial of a white former police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man.
On the Oakland Police Department website there are messages from the police chief and Oakland’s mayor warning people to stay calm.
“We anticipate that regardless of the verdict reached by the jury, demonstrations could occur in downtown Oakland, and potentially throughout the city,” one of the messages said. “We will not tolerate destruction or violence. We live here, and we love Oakland. We understand that the community is grieving, and we are in this together. We will get through this together.”
Closing arguments are scheduled to conclude Friday in the murder trial of former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle, said CNN affiliate KTVU reported.
The shooting was captured on a bystander’s cell-phone video camera, widely circulated on the Internet and on news broadcasts, and it spurred several protests and riots in and around Oakland.
Bay Area Rapid Transit police were called to Oakland’s Fruitvale station January 1, 2009, after passengers complained about fights on a train. Officers pulled several men, including Grant, off the train when it arrived at Fruitvale.
The video showed Mehserle pulling his gun and fatally shooting Grant in the back as another officer kneeled on the unarmed Grant. Mehserle has said at the trial that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun, KTVU reported.
Grant’s family filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the officers involved in the incident.
In January, the transit system agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle the suit. The money will provide financial support to Grant’s young daughter.
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