The former transit officer convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of an unarmed black man said he will live his life knowing Oscar Grant “should not have been shot,” according to a handwritten letter published Friday by The Oakland Tribune.
“For now, and forever I will live, breathe, sleep, and not sleep with the memory of Mr. Grant screaming ‘you shot me’ and me putting my hands on the bullet wound thinking the pressure would help while I kept telling him ‘you’ll be okay,’” Johannes Mehserle wrote in the letter dated July 4.
Mehserle, 28, was found guilty Thursday of involuntary manslaughter for shooting Grant, 22, in the back after responding to a reported fight on a train.
Mehserle said he had intended to shoot Grant with his Taser but had mistakenly grabbed his firearm instead.
The January 2009 incident was captured on a cell phone video. Grant was shown lying on his stomach with his hands tied behind his back in the moments before the shooting.
In the letter published Friday, Mehserle said he has received death threats against his newborn son, his friends and his family.
Meanwhile, police said Friday that of the 83 looters arrested in Oakland, Calif., Thursday night following the verdict, just 19 were Oakland residents, The Tribune reported.
Less than 10 of the arrests were on felony charges, while the rest were citations for failure to disperse.
Authorities were surveying the damage and store owners were cleaning up the vandalism that resulting from the protests. Up to 800 people gathered in the streets following the verdict, but police said only 100 of them were involved in the unrest.
The crowds smashed storefront windows, stole merchandise, set trash cans on fire and spraypainted walls with messages such as, “You can’t shoot us all,” the Los Angeles Times reported earlier Friday.
Police said it was too early to estimate the cost of the damage.
On Friday, the Justice Department said in a statement that it had been “closely monitoring” the case.
“The Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the FBI have an open investigation into the fatal shooting and, at the conclusion of the state prosecution, will conduct an independent review of the facts and circumstances to determine whether the evidence warrants federal prosecution,” the statement said.