Instead of “Fatal Gunshot Wound,” Let’s Just Call it “an Ouchie”

A courtroom artist's depiction of Officer Johannes Mehserle

When is somebody who gets shot in the back while they’re lying face down on the ground not “a victim”?

On New Year’s Eve 2009, Johannes Mehserle, a white BART cop, killed Oscar Grant by shooting the young African American man while he was laying face-down on the ground. Following the release of a widely-viewed YouTube video and youth-led riots through the streets of Oakland, Mehserle was charged with murder. The trial was moved to Los Angeles because it was deemed that Mehserle “couldn’t get a fair trial” in Oakland.

Now Mehserle’s lawyers are trying to stack the rhetorical deck by convincing the judge that a guy who got shot to death by a cop should not be referred to as “the victim” – but “Mr. Grant,” instead.  That certainly sounds a lot more respectful “bitch-ass n*gger” – the term that BART cop Tony Pirone used to address Grant shortly before Mehserle shot him.

The lawyers also want Johannes to be called “Officer Mehserle” rather than “the defendant,” even though Mehserle quit the force six days after the shooting.

As long as they’re re-writing legal definitions, why stop there? If they really want to win over the jury why not really get creative?

Why not refer to Mehserle as “the hero” and Grant as “the thug”? Why not manipulate the YouTube video and sprinkle some digital PCP on Grant and put a gun in his hand?  In fact, instead of showing actual footage of the murder, why not just show the jury re-runs of the TV show “Cops” until they decide to acquit Mehserle so they can just go home?

A courtroom artist's depiction of Mr. Grant.

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