Officials claim that they need more time to investigate what the public has already seen... a police officer shooting an unarmed man who posed no threat in the back, in cold blood.
The BART police department, transit authority, and District Attorney, Tom Orloff, have all made it clear that they are desperately seeking evidence to absolve the officer by floating speculation that it was an accident of some sort or that there was some justification for the shooting that wasn't captured on the three different videos that have been released to the public... videos that all show the same thing... an unjustified killing.
Fellow police officers have also tried to do the same by floating the theory of "taser confusion" as cause for this killing, suggesting that it's easy to confuse a brightly colored device that is lighter than, has a different grip than, and is supposed to be carried on the opposite side than a service weapon.
Even if we accept this dubious possibility the death is still a criminal matter by way of shear negligence. But there's another disturbing aspect to this death which makes it a crime of intent. it is an aspect that has been entirely missed so far, but was ultimately the series of actions that needlessly put Oscar Grant in harm's way that night.
To understand what caused the arrest of Oscar Grant to spiral downward into murder we need to examine the actions of the other officer, not just Mehserle's. It was this officer who escalated the arrest of an unarmed and cooperative suspect into a use of force situation without any apparent reason whatsoever, and that is what ultimately cost Oscar Grant his life.
Note: the following analysis is of this third video from KTVU shot from the train by a cell phone camera. Even though it's quality isn't as good as the others and I can't embed it here, it's important to use this as an index because it starts before the others and shows the unnamed officer strike Grant in the face, which is likely what caused others to start filming.
An analysis of this video shows that:
At mark 00:10 an unidentified bald officer walks up and punches Oscar Grant in the face. This is obvious in the video as the officer's arm moves forward and Grant's head snaps back and Grant begins to collapse. After striking Grant the officer moves him to a seated position and Grant puts his hands up palm forward in supplication, the officer orders another man to sit and then leaves after a few seconds.
At 01:23, after the bald officer returns he appears to order the detainees arrest, this is apparent as the officers were talking with the suspects until the bald officer marched back over. At this point Mehserle moves Grant to a kneeling position and pulls Grant's arms behind him, there is no sign of resistance at this point.
However, at 01:26 Mehserle pushes Grant face first to the ground while the bald officer plants his knee on Grant's neck, which causes Grant to involuntarily squirm due to the pain of that maneuver. Up to this point there appeared to be no threat posed by Grant to justify the use of this tactic.
At 01:28 Mehserle makes a furtive grab for his service weapon, but then stops.
At 01:45 Mehserle grabs at his service weapon again, this time he continues to try to pull it from the holster for at least 2 full seconds, ample time to have figured out that this was not a taser which is held in a different type of holster and has a different feel.
Four seconds later, at 01:49, the bald officer shifts his stance to the other side of Grant to put himself out of the line of fire, but resumes his pain compliance hold with his knee on Grant's neck while Mehserle pulls his service weapon from the holster. This would indicate that the order to fire, whether it was to fire a taser or the Mehserle's service weapon, came from the bald officer.
At 01:51 Mehserle gets into his stance and aims his weapon at Grant while the bald officer maintains his hold. If this was in prep for the application of a taser the bald officer would have moved away now to avoid getting shocked.
At 01:52 Mehserle fires a shot into Grant's back as the bald officer continues to hold him face down on the floor of the station.
It's only one second later, at 01:53, that the bald officer finally stands up and steps away from the mortally injured Grant.
The actions of the unnamed bald officer's aggressive use of force, both when he punches Grant in the face at the beginning of the video and when he needlessly employed a pain compliance move on a suspect that was otherwise cooperative, are what ultimately led to Grant's death. It is why there must be criminal charges in this case, a case of assault that resulted in the death of an unarmed person...
To understand this, consider that the unnamed officer is seen "taking a knee" on Oscar Grant's neck. This police tactic is relatively new and used often as a pain compliance move that both immobilizes a suspect and causes severe pain in order to, supposedly, force dangerous suspects to comply with orders that would allow for restraints to be applied when they otherwise wouldn't.
Clip taken from the arrest of Mike Ladd at an anti-war march in Seattle on 03/2007. Charges against Ladd for resisting arrest were later dropped when this video proved the application of the officer's pain compliance holds prevented Ladd from following commands to put his hands behind his back.
The problem with this hold is that it does such a good job of immobilizing a suspect that it often renders them incapable of following commands to put their arms behind them so cuffs can be applied, especially if the person held has tried to catch their fall when thrown to the ground and ends up with an arm trapped underneath them when the hold is applied.
More than this, the hold causes so much pain that most people can't help but kick their legs and squirm in pain as a reflexive response to that pain, which often causes officers to use even more force to enact an arrest, including the use of another pain compliance tool called a taser.
The last image recorded on AP photojournalist Matthew Rourke's before he was arrested in St. Paul as documented here. It shows how suspects will often react involuntarily to the application of this painful move.
This problem with the "taking a knee" on a suspect's neck has been documented before and has resulted in suspect being cleared of resisting arrest charges upon review of video evidence before, yet the tactic remains a favorite of police officers everywhere. As seen numerous times in St. Paul during the RNC protests.
It was the other officer's rush to use force to enact the arrest of the otherwise non-threatening Oscar Grant and that officers rush to needlessly use a pain compliance hold on a person who presented no threat that set into motion the series of events which cost Oscar Grant his life on New Years morning... irregardless as to whether the bullet that tore through his back was fired accidentally or on purpose.
In other words, the two officers involved with detaining Oscar Grant intended to hurt him without justification that night, and that's considered a crime called assault. And when the crime of assault results in a death, that's considered murder, even if the death was the ultimate intent of the two officers involved or not.
Updated 17:39 01/11/09