Conviction of transit officer leads to riots

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07/09/2010

There were riots in the streets of Oakland, Calif. last night following an involuntary manslaughter conviction of a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer for shooting a 22-year-old unarmed black man on January 1, 2009.

That sentence carries a maximum four-year sentence.

But some in Oakland expected a tougher penalty for the former police officer, and took to the streets in protest, reported CNN.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the high point of the protests there were about 800 people in the streets, which lead to the arrests of 50 people.

The shooting was captured on a bystander's cell-phone video camera:

At his trial, the officer claimed that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun. But I wonder: How does a legally sworn officer make that kind of mistake? I'm not an expert on guns or Tasers, but it's my understanding that they're held and fired quite differently. It's apparent from the video that this situation was getting out of hand and there was a lot of chaos, so maybe the officer just lost his head? But I wonder too if this is any indication that these officers aren't properly trained?

Especially after watching the video, it seems like inexperience and chaos likely contributed to this outcome. There's a moment in the video, right after the shot is heard (around the 1:25 mark), when the officers seem completely stunned, especially the officer with the gun. It seems like they don't know what to do with the body or how they should deal with the situation.

Of course, it's still murder, regardless of whether he meant to do it or not. The officer will be sentenced August 6, and it'll be interesting to see how many years he gets and what the public's reaction will be.

Comments

Let's address the primary issue, if the BART Police were to remove vegrants harrassing BART customers, then a larger group of officers should have been sent, along with a supervisor. From my experience in LE, sometime the RailRoad Police are ill equipted for the mission. Preplanning and coordination the local PD (Okland CA) could have prevented this unfortunate situation. This could happen anywhere, with an unerperience officer, pre-raid planning could have prevented this event. Thank you for the opportunity to express my thoughts - -Harry T. Rensel