Former BART Officer Mehserle arrested

January 14, 2009 12:23:31 AM PST
Former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle, who shot an unarmed man on New Year's Day, was arrested on Tuesday night. Twenty-two-year-old Oscar Grant III was killed as he lay facedown at Oakland's Fruitvale BART station.

The Oakland Mayor's Office confirmed for ABC7 News the arrest of the former officer. The arrest took place around 7 p.m. Tuesday evening in Douglas County, Nevada. That's just over the border in Zephyr Cove, near Lake Tahoe. That is where Mehserle has presumed to have been staying after he resigned from BART.

He quit last Wednesday rather than answer questions as to why he shot Grant, who was unarmed, lying facedown at the Fruitvale BART station in the early hours of New Year's Day.

Oakland Police did not comment on Tuesday night, but ABC7 was told they made the arrest in conjunction with the Douglas County Sheriff's Department in Nevada.

"I believe it was for the murder. I believe he was taken into custody sometime around 7 p.m. this evening. He'll be arraigned in the morning, and he'll have the option to fight extradition back to California or to waive it," said Sgt. Dan Coverley, from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.

BART Spokesperson Linton Johnson told ABC7 that BART officials were not told of the impending arrest and they were taken by surprise on Tuesday evening.

On Monday, BART turned its investigation over to the D.A. The arrest comes on the eve of a large protest scheduled to take place at Oakland City Hall. City officials have planned for what they fear would be another round of riots.

The attorney for the victim's family spoke out.

"It's wonderful news. I'm pleased that it happened as quickly as it has, since the district attorney has taken over the case. It was very important for this to occur quickly. The evidence has been there since day one. It's pretty clear that the evidence suggested and supported a criminal charge. To the extent the D.A. has moved quickly, it would be helpful for the family understand and appreciate, so that the healing process can go forward," said John Burris, the Grant Family's attorney.

The 27-year-old Mehserle was arrested in Douglas County, Nevada, on a homicide warrant issued by the Alameda County District Attorney.

On Wednesday, BART and the Alameda County District Attorney's office are expected to hold press conferences.

Protest organizers say they were also caught by surprise by this arrest, but say they still plan to hold the planned protest in Oakland on Wednesday.

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