General Crime

*Jan 14, Oakland DA Explains Murder Charge Against Bart Officer

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*Jan 14, Former Bart Officer Booked On Fugitive Warrant For Homicide
*Jan 13, Former Bart Officer Involved In Shooting Arrested In Nevada
*Jan 13, Sonoma Settles Wronful Death Suit For Fatal Shooting By Deputies
*Jan 13, Salinas Police, City Officials Work To Address Gang Crime
*Jan 13,NRA Settles Lawsuit Challenging San Francisco Housing Authority Gun Ban
*Jan 13, Pinole Women Who Allegedly Fatally Shot Mother To Be Charged Wednesday


Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said today that his office has charged former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle with murder for the shooting death of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale early on New Year’s Day.”What I feel the evidence indicates is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act … There was nothing that would mitigate it to something less than murder,” Orloff said at a news conference in Oakland this morning. Mehserle surrendered to authorities in Douglas County, Nev. Tuesday evening after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest for homicide. Douglas County sheriff’s officials said they had been told Mehserle was staying in the Zephyr Cove area of Lake Tahoe. Orloff’s news conference came as Mehserle was being transported to the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin after waiving extradition at a hearing this morning in Minden, Nev. Orloff said the fact that Mehserle has declined to talk to investigators about the shooting has made the investigation more difficult. He said if Mehserle had talked, “it could have given me insight into his thought process” during the incident. The shooting happened on the platform of the Fruitvale station around 2 a.m. on Jan. 1 after BART police stopped a train following reports of a fight on board.Numerous train passengers captured the shooting on video with their cell phone cameras and the footage has sparked outrage and protests, including one last week that turned violent and resulted in extensive vandalism to Oakland’s downtown.Orloff, who has been the district attorney for 16 years and has worked in the office for 39 years, said it’s the first time he has charged a police officer with murder.  Attorney John Burris, who has filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART on behalf of Grant’s family, said Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, is “very happy” that Mehserle has been charged but is still grappling with the fact that her son is gone. Burris said Johnson “is in deep, deep mourning.” BART officials early this morning released a response to Mehserle’s arrest.”This investigation shows that no one is above the law but everyone is entitled to due process of the law,” BART board president Thomas Blalock said. Board member Carole Ward Allen said BART will work to repair its damaged relationship with community members. “We know that this shooting has caused anger and concern in the community,” Allen said. “We pledge to work with the community to rebuild the trust it has placed in our transit agency.”Another protest is planned this afternoon for 4 p.m. in downtown Oakland.  Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is holding an additional news conference early this afternoon, and Mehserle’s defense attorney Christopher Miller will hold a news conference in Sacramento at 3 p.m.

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Authorities in Nevada today arrested the former BART police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland Jan. 1 after learning an arrest warrant for homicide was pending against him, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.Oakland police provided the sheriff’s office information this
morning that Johannes Mehserle, 27, was in the Zephyr Cove area of Lake Tahoe, Nev., the sheriff’s office reported. Oakland police and Douglas County sheriff’s officials determined Mehserle was in the 1000 block of Skyland Drive in Zephyr Cove.After receiving confirmation that an arrest warrant had been issued, authorities contacted Mehserle’s attorney, who in turn called Mehserle. Mehserle left the home at 1007 Skyland Drive and surrendered to sheriff’s officials without incident at about 6:20 p.m., the sheriff’s office reported. He was booked into the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office main jail in Minden on a fugitive warrant for homicide from Alameda County Superior Court, according to the sheriff’s office.Mehserle is being held without bail pending his extradition hearing, according to the sheriff’s office. He is being kept in a segregated area of the facility and is on a precautionary health and welfare watch, according to the sheriff’s office.The incident at the Fruitvale station in Oakland occurred shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1 when Mehserle and other officers stopped a train at the station in Oakland after receiving reports that two groups of men were fighting on the train.The shooting, which is under investigation by multiple agencies, has prompted protests in the Bay Area, including a violent demonstration last week in Oakland.Another protest is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday outside Oakland’s City Hall.

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The former Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer who shot and killed Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station Jan. 1 is being held today in jail in Douglas County, Nev., a jail official said. Johannes Mehserle was taken into custody today on a fugitive warrant, said Douglas County sheriff’s Deputy J.T. Davis.The incident at the Fruitvale station occurred shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1 when Mehserle and other officers stopped a train at the station in Oakland after receiving reports that two groups of men were fighting on the train.The shooting, which is under investigation by multiple agencies, has prompted protests in the Bay Area, including a violent demonstration last week in Oakland.Another protest is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday outside Oakland’s City Hall.

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Salinas police have flooded the streets since a rash of violence resulted in the deaths of five city residents since Friday, but officials say the problem is not easily fixed by law enforcement in a city where gang culture has roots Police Chief Daniel M. Ortega was joined by Mayor Dennis Donohue this morning during a news conference to discuss the shootings.Donohue said this afternoon that he and the Police Department remain committed to long-term programs and goals already in place to deal with the city’s gang problem. “Fundamentally, this remains a historical, cultural issue,” he said. “The issue of violence in our community is not new.”The most recent violence was reported Monday, when three people died and one was injured in three separate shootings, police Sgt. Don Cline said.The day started with the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy around 9 a.m., police said. Salinas resident Juan Jose Perez was walking north on Burke Street when he was approached by a male suspect who shot him with a handgun. Perez died at a hospital, police Sgt. Chris Lane said. Later that day, Salinas resident James Lopez, 26, was driving on John Street near McGowan Drive around 2 p.m. when he was shot at by a person inside a light-green minivan that pulled alongside his car, police said.Lopez was transported to Natividad Medical Center, where he died.Monday’s third shooting happened around 7:20 p.m. near Mae Avenue and Cortez Street. Witnesses told police a vehicle was parked on Cortez Street when two suspects walked up and fired into the vehicle.The driver and his passenger, 17-year-old Jose Guevarra, were transported to hospitals. Guevarra died and the driver was listed today in serious condition, Cline said. Investigators believe Monday’s three shootings are the latest in a string of gang-related murders since Friday, involving the city’s most active Norteno and Sureno gangs, Cline said today. Several other attempted murders have also been reported, according to police.The first of the fatal shootings happened around 2:15 a.m. Friday, when Salinas resident Luis Fernando Rodriguez Garcia, 34, was shot in the 1100 block of Cortez Street, police said. Garcia succumbed to his wound Sunday evening, according to the Police Department. The second fatal shooting happened Saturday night.Salinas resident Frankie Espinoza was shot around 10:20 p.m. as he was leaving a party in the 1200 block of Tampico Avenue. He was flown to a hospital where he died Sunday morning.Donahue said police patrols have been increased and officers have been pulled from other assignments to flood the streets and solve the recent killings, fixing the problem on a short-term basis.However, the Police Department has not changed its overall gang operations, according to Donohue.”We’re not going to do something different today than we did yesterday,” he said. “As a community, we have a game plan.”Donohue said he has seen worry from the community, but the overall issue remains a social one that cannot be fixed by any one entity. “It is frustrating to see the apparent impunity these people operate in the daylight,” Donohue said. “That concerns people, and obviously that concerns the police.”The mayor stressed that gang violence is not unique to Salinas but will have to be solved by Salinas for the sake of the community. “I think unfortunately this pattern of violence, a gang culture, just has simply taken root in our community, and it’s gone on for generations, and I think there’s an element within our community that think it’s an acceptable lifestyle,” Donohue said. “It’s not just an assault on the victims, but an assault on our community.”Lane said gang crimes are typically difficult to investigate because witnesses are unwilling to speak with police. The current cases are close to being solved, he said, in part because more witnesses are coming forward.Lane said the long-standing problem is not easily solved.”It’s not a law enforcement problem in and of itself,” Lane explained. “It’s going to take a lot of education, a lot of enforcement efforts. Law enforcement is not going to be able to do that on its own.”

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Sonoma County has settled a wrongful death civil lawsuit in connection with the fatal shooting of 16-year old Jeremiah Chass by two sheriff’s deputies in the driveway of his family’s Sebastopol area home in 2007 The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the $1.75 million settlement this afternoon.”We think the payment of this sum is significant acknowledgement that errors were made that led to his unnecessary death,” said Patrick Emery, one of the Chass family’s attorneys.”It’s very important that families in Sonoma County feel safe when calling for assistance from the sheriff’s department and not be fearful of their response,” Emery said. “The settlement is an important acknowledgement of that fact.”Sonoma County Sheriff Bill Cogbill said in a prepared statement, “The death of Jeremiah Chass was a true tragedy for the family, the deputies involved and the community. While I as everyone involved wish the outcome could have been different, the actions by the deputies were justified under the circumstances. This has been verified by a review by the District Attorney’s Office as well as a review by the Sonoma County Grand Jury.” Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua concluded the officers acted lawfully and no criminal charges against them are warranted. “A settlement with the family in this case is not an admission of any wrongdoing by the County,” Cogbill said. “We believe the facts of the case show that our deputies’ actions were legal and responsible.”However, because of the naturally sympathetic nature of this case, and the unpredictability of the civil legal process, our best judgment was not to risk additional taxpayer dollars during these difficult fiscal times. On the positive side, this settlement allows the Chass family, the deputies involved, the community, and the Department to move forward from this tragic incident,” Cogbill said. Cogbill also said the training, practices, policies and procedures of the sheriff’s department are up to date and relevant and meet or exceed the standards of other law enforcement agencies and those required by the California Peace Officers Standards and Training. Chass was shot seven times in the back of his family’s van by deputies John Misita and Jim Ryan at his family’s residence off High School Road in Sebastopol on March 12, 2007.  His parents initially called the Sebastopol Fire Department that morning for medical help to take Chass to a hospital because Chass was experiencing what later was described as a psychotic breakdown. The fire department notified Sebastopol police who then put the family in touch with the sheriff’s department.The sheriff’s department said Chass threatened his younger brother Isaiah with a Leatherman-style tool in the back of the van and fought violently against the deputies who struggled with him. The sheriff’s department said the deputies believed Isaiah’s and their lives were in danger.Chass kicked Ryan several times in the face during the struggle in the van and thought he was going to become unconscious, according to the sheriff’s department’s account of the incident. He saw Misita fighting for his life and Chass still flailing the knife in his hand and realized his only option to save Misita was to shoot Chass, the sheriff’s department said.Ryan shot Chass several times but he kept fighting and Misita shot Chass once, the sheriff’s department said.The shooting caused an uproar about the deadly use of force by law enforcement against mentally ill people and the lack of adequate facilities to house them when they suffer psychotic breakdowns.The sheriff’s department also was criticized because according to a timeline by Santa Rosa police, which investigated the fatal shooting, and the sheriff’s department, Chass was fatally shot six minutes after Misita arrived at the scene at 8:44 a.m. and two minutes after Ryan arrived at 8:48
a.m. Chass was pronounced dead at 9 a.m. An autopsy showed there were no prescription or illegal drugs or alcohol in his body. Emery said part of the settlement stipulates 8-year-old Isaiah Chass will receive $275,000 for his college education. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District, in San Francisco.

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A federal lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association to challenge a San Francisco Housing Authority ban on gun possession in public housing has been settled.The NRA sued the housing authority the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2008, that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives individuals the right to possess guns. Under the settlement, signed by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Monday, the agency will no longer enforce a 2005 rule that prohibited the otherwise legal possession of guns and ammunition in public housing units. But the settlement states that illegal possession of firearms and ammunition in the units remains strictly prohibited.  Housing Authority attorney Jim Larson said, “We thought the settlement would be in the best interests of the housing authority.”Lawyers for the NRA were not available for comment. In addition to the NRA, plaintiffs in the lawsuit included the Washington state-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and an anonymous gay public housing resident who said he needed a gun for protection against possible hate crimes.In its ruling last year, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to individuals and not just to state militias.

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Pinole police plan to present a case to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office Wednesday alleging that a Pinole woman fatally shot her mother in the head Sunday morning, Detective Justin Rogers said today.Police received a call at about 7:50 a.m. reporting an unknown problem in a home in the 4000 block of Marcas Street. When officers arrived, they found 43-year-old Kimberly Petretti sitting on the curb outside the house. She told the officers to go inside, police said. Officers found 62-year-old Claudia Petretti dead inside the house. She appeared to have been shot in the head, police said.Police also found a rifle allegedly used in the shooting, Rogers said.Although the motive for the shooting is still unknown, investigators did find an eviction notice inside the house that said the residents had to move out by Sunday, Rogers said.Both Kimberly and Claudia Petretti lived at the house.Kimberly Petretti was arrested on suspicion of murder and booked into county jail in Martinez. Prosecutors have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file charges or they have to release her.

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  • I am disgusted at some of the comments that I have read hear. Who cares if the shooting was an accident or not. Personally I think it was NOT an accident but even if it was what difference does it make. If I or anyone else pulls a weapons and accidentally kills someone with it you can bet that I would be arrested and charged with a crime. Stating that the shooting was an accident does NOT get the officer a pass he should have been arrested, no free passes for the police, if anything they need to be held to a higher standard. Who want a cop on the job who can even handle his own weapon ???

  • Oakland! Grow Up! Get a Job! If your a good citizen you will not come face to face with an oficers gun! Let this man (officer) have a chance to explain what happened! Oakland needs to be turned into a landfill!!!!!!

  • You all sound ignorant to say the black community are acting out like a lynch mob. If you watched the news you would know there were races of all kinds at this march, what they capture most is the “BLACK” people because that what they want your focus to be on. Yes the protest went way too far but what actions would you take for your family for your community if you have been constantly held up against the wall and finally you have strong evidence of what you have been complaining of all along. I myself was a victim of police misconduct, a few years ago there was a “Side Show” after an Usher Concert in Concord Ca. and my freinds and I got causght up in the traffic where there was no way for us to get through. (4) females sitting in a vehicle with our windows rolled down seat belts on, and (2) Concord Ca. Police officers (1) with a K-9 and the other with Pepper spray walked up to our car the K-9 barking at us and the cop with the pepper spray reached into our vehicle and sprayed all (4) of us black females for no reason at all and walked away. I have seen people with my own eyes taken down to the ground and beaten with no reason because the police officer felt he needed to prove he was in charge. “We” (people that have every been the victim of police misconduct) not only black people see this case and feel it as if this will show that we finally are able to show this misconduct is real. We are disgusted that we had to loose someone in the process to show what we go through, but are fortunate it has finally come to light!

  • Have you people watched the videos of this shooting? People are incited to riot because the evidence as released to the community is so damning and yet until this arrest no action had been taken. I believe that the situation is tragic and am not justifying destruction of private property. However something is wrong with the world when people are more concerned about the smashing of windows then about the unjustified death of an unarmed 22-year old father, butcher.

  • I am also disgusted Yolanda that the BART police officer has been arrested. Yes it looks like an accident. The black community is behaving exactly like a lynch mob and the district attorney does not have the courage to stand up to the mob. They should be ashamed of themselves. Where was the mob when San Jose Police Officer Jeff Fontana was intentionally murdered in cold blood by Deshawn Campbell. Why are they not rioting because it’s been 7 years since Campbell murdered Officer Fontana and he has still not been brought to trial? Is it because the accused killer is black and the victim was white? The mob is a bunch of hypocrites.

  • That is an ignorant statement little t. You have some serious problems starting with a lack of education and a dysfunctional view of police. Get over your victim mentality and act like a civilized member of your community.

  • I am a 60 year old black man and I am ashamed of my people. As a black man growing up in the 50’s and 60’s I experienced REAL racism and white mob violence. Thank GOD those days are long gone. Now my people have resorted to the same lynch mob mentality. The police officer deserves the same respect and due process any man of any color deserves.

  • I am absolutely disgusted that the BART police officer has been arrested. It was obviously an accidental shooting. He has been arrested only to satisfy the loud mouth lynch mob and not give the criminals an excuse to riot and victimize their own black community.

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