Monday’s proceeedings in the Johannese Mehserle trial  began with the testimony of Greg Meyer, a 20-year police tactical consultant.  Meyer retired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2006 and was called by the defense to offer his expert opinion in arrest procedures.  He is also certified as an M-26 and an X-26 Taser instructor.  The X-26 is the model that was carried by Johannes Mehserle on Jan. 1, 2009.

Under questioning by Rains. Meyer stated that based on his analysis of the videos from New Year’s Day 2009, testimony and statements, Oscar Grant was resisting his lawful arrest that early morning on the Fruitvale platform.

Meyer stated more than once throughout the morning that Grant was “physically resistant” to both former officer Tony Pirone and Mehserle.  “When a person will not show their hands, they are physically resistant,” he said.

Defense attorney Michael Rains has maintained that the resistance Grant put up to Mehserle’s lawful attempt to arrest him is the reason for Mehserle’s decision to deploy his taser on Grant.  Mehserle has said he drew his service revolver and shot Grant in the back accidentally.

As Rains went through Mehserle’s other options for subduing Grant (kicking, stick, baton, pepper spray) Meyer answered “He could have, but he did not.  The Taser was an acceptable use of force.”

Meyer said he would not advise the use of a baton or standing up and kicking a person in the ribs because it “might inflame the passions of those around you.”

The former LAPD officer, who said he was familiar with Mehserle’s Taser training, authored an article on a number of cases where officers could have used their firearms but chose the Taser instead, and said that Mehserle’s objective was reasonable and appropriate.  He also said that the Taser training the former BART officer received was not adequate enough to prevent “taser confusion.”

As an expert on Tasers and their use, Meyer said he had identified at least two common themes among the six cases of “Taser confusion” presented in court:  the individuals involved always drew their firearm with their strong/dominant hand; and only one round was fired each time.  “Police training is two or three rounds until you can tell if a person has been subdued,” he said.

On cross-examination, DA David Stein asked Meyer’s relationship to Taser International, the company that makes the model X-26 that Mehserle was using.  Meyers answered that he teaches at the company’s nationwide academy and “kind of” acts as an adviser – “They call me and I answer questions” – but his not on their board and draws no salary from them.

Meyers does however, get compensated for being an expert witness in Mehserle’s defense:  $5000 as a retainer, $3,500 per court appearance and a fee of $300 per hour.

As a consultant, Meyer also testified for the defense in the officers accused of beating Rodney King in 1992. His testimony was that those officers did not use excessive force in subduing their suspect, King.

Stein probed the issue deeper in relation to Pirone and Grant by asking if Pirone used excessive force against the 22-year old man.  “I don’t recall anything where he was over the line; in viewing the video tapes, nothing jumped out at me as, “Why
did he do that?”

Stein’s questions continued to call into question Meyer’s opinion, formed in March of 2009, that Grant was resisting.  “Did you consider the extent to which another officer was restraining Mr. Grant?  Did you consider Mehserle’s and Pirone’s weight
with vests and gear – 500 pounds?  “I considered it and rejected it, said Meyers.”

“It was very clear to me that Mr. Grant was using his muscles over several seconds to keep from giving his right arm to Officer Mehserle.”

Mehserle weighed approximately 250 pounds and stood 6-feet-four inches on Jan. 1, 2009.

Closing arguments in the case of People v. Johannes Mehserle could be held on Thursday, July 1, 2010. The defense for the former Bay Area Rapid transit officer, accused of the murder of Oscar Grant, is scheduled to call its last witness Tuesday, June 29.

Coverage of the trial will continue on Oakland Local. See OL’s previous

coverage of the Oscar Grant case here. Follow on twitter @OscarGrantTrial.

Coverage of the Mehserle trial is done in collaboration with partners including  New
American Media
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