LOS ANGELES — Jurors in the upcoming trial of a former BART police officer charged with murdering an unarmed Hayward man can hear about an incident in which police reported the man ran from officers and resisted arrest, a judge ruled Friday.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry granted a defense motion to allow some details about the criminal history of Oscar Grant III, who was shot in the back and killed on the platform of the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009.
Ex-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, 28, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Grant.
The trial was moved from Alameda County to Los Angeles because of widespread media coverage and racial tensions sparked by the case.
Mehserle's attorney, Michael Rains, argued that Grant's prior run-in with the law was relevant to his client's case, although the issue wasn't brought up at length during a preliminary hearing last year.
Perry read from a police report accusing Grant of running from San Leandro officers during a traffic stop in October 2006. He was shot with a Taser stun gun and resisted arrest as officers tried to handcuff him, the report states.
Authorities suspect Grant was carrying a gun that he tried to get rid of during the foot pursuit. A .380 pistol was found about 20 feet from the site of the arrest.
Perry said the incident would help shed light on Grant for jurors.
"I must allow some evidence of this prior incident," Perry said. "The
Perry, however, refused to allow testimony that Grant, 22, may have had a gun or that he was on probation.
Central questions for jurors involve whether Grant, who was black, was resisting arrest and if Mehserle, who is white, properly used force.
The shooting was videotaped by several bystanders and triggered riots in Oakland. The footage also was shown across the Internet.
Rains has argued Mehserle mistakenly pulled out his handgun instead of his Taser gun before the shooting.
Perry also denied a defense motion to allow police officers to be part of the jury pool. Among his other rulings:
Jury selection is expected to begin June 1, with opening statements on June 14.