Early this morning, former BART cop Johannes Mehserle was released from the Los Angeles County Men's Jail. He served just over 11 months of a two-year sentence for the death of Oscar Grant, 22, on a Fruitvale BART platform on New Year's Day 2009. He was released with credit for time served. While the media eagerly hopes for civil unrest to erupt in Oakland, like it did on the day of Mehserle's sentencing, the city has been peaceful thus far.
What will Merhserle do with a free life? No one knows, exactly. Obviously, it will be difficult for him to escape his now famous last name and his notorious crime.
For Mehserle, being freed from jail offers a chance to begin anew but not in the profession he had chosen when he became a BART police officer more than three years ago. And while Mehserle's release closes a chapter in the highly publicized saga, the story of Grant's death and its implications will continue for years as both a federal civil suit and an appeal of Mehserle's conviction remain active in the courts.
It also remains unclear what type of parole Mehserle will be given although some have said the former police officer will be given the most lenient parole available in the state which does not require him to take drug tests, check in with a parole officer or remain a resident of California.
Protesters peacefully marched from from the Fruitvale BART Station to 14th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland to voice their frustration over Mehserle's early release, notes the Chronicle. A Los Angeles jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter in July of 2009.
One of the most vocal opponents has been Oscar's uncle, Cephus "Bobby" Johnson, who, earlier this month, told the Tribune, "We really don't feel like there has been accountability for his actions...We were totally let down by the judicial system."