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Friday, July 09, 2010

Video proof that Mehserle thought he was firing his Taser

Slowed down video shows officer Mehserle bringing his left hand towards his pistol just before shooting Oscar Grant in the back, yet he fires the gun before his left hand has reached a support position. If he knew he was firing his pistol instead of his Taser, he would never have done this, and the video shows why. The recoiling pistol whacks Mehserle's left hand, which he then jerks upwards, away from the impact:

Fatal second
The fatal second (37;05 – 37;29 of KTVU’s highlighted cell phone video of the shooting, slowed to 1/2 second a frame). Red circle (added) shows the first appearance of officer Mehserle's muzzle flash.

The movements of Mehserle's off-hand were unconscious. There is no way he could have faked them, making this, really, video proof of Taser confusion. Nobody would knowingly fire a pistol just before his off hand had reached a support position because he would know that the recoil would bash his off hand. He would either keep his off hand away, or he would wait until the off hand was in a support position before firing.

A Taser, in contrast, has no recoil to speak of, so if Mehserle thought he was firing his Taser, he would not anticipate recoil. The fact that the recoil smacked his off-hand proves that he did not anticipate recoil, which proves Taser confusion, or at the very least is nearly conclusive evidence of it.

The video also belies Orloff's claim that both of Grant's hands were on his back when he was shot

The verdict of involuntary manslaughter means the jury did find the shooting to be accidental. At least they got that much right. But if they saw that the shooting was accidental, how could they find criminal negligence? Are they saying that Mehserle did not even have cause to Taser Oscar Grant?

That's about the only possibility. They must have believed Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff's claim that Grant had been in a compliance position when he was shot:
... both of Grant's hands were behind his back, a position hands are commonly placed in by police officers in order to handcuff individuals, when the shot was fired into his body.
If Grant's hands were both behind his back, why do anything but handcuff him? But Orloff is wrong. The instant after the shooting, Grant's hands were both on his back, but only because he was just starting to swing his own left arm up onto his own back at the moment Mehserle fired.

Start with a frame grab of the fatal instant, when Mesherle's muzzle flash first appears. Grant is in the act of swinging his left arm (circled in blue) up onto his back:


To verify that the blue circle is showing Grant's left arm, look at the slow motion video. In the first frame of the animation below, officer Pirone (kneeling on Grant’s shoulder and neck) has just gotten control of Grant’s right hand and pulled it up behind Grant’s back. As the motion starts, Pirone lets go and draws back (presumably in response to Mehserle’s Taser warning).

Look at the spot where Pirone’s arm pulls back behind his own body. From this same spot in the image, Grant’s left arm then appears, as he starts to swing his own arm up towards his own back (presumably also in response to Mehserle's Taser warning). One frame (1/15th of a second) after Grant's left arm starts to swing up, Mehserle’s muzzle-flash appears, then Grant finishes swinging his own arm up onto his own back:

Fatal second
Sequence starts and ends with the black frame.

Grant did not have both hands on his back when he was shot. The key "fact" that District Attorney Orloff used to justify murder charges turns out to be false, and Orloff has known it for a year and a half. That is how long ago I called his office and told one of his attorneys what my frame-by-frame analysis reveals and where to find it (here on this Error Theory blog, 2/17/09, where I also showed Mehserle's off-hand getting slammed by his gun's recoil).

Orloff's lie here is one of omission. He should have told the people of Oakland that he had discovered that he was wrong about both of Grant's hands being behind his back when he was shot. Instead, in a supreme act of political cowardice, he pandered to the racist mob that is out for injustice.

Even worse was his lie of commission.

Orloff lied, people are gonna die

Two weeks after the shooting, District Attorney Orloff justified murder charges with the following assertion:
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.
This was before officer Mehserle had said anything about confusing his pistol for his Taser, but Orloff had clear evidence of Taser confusion from the reports of other officers, who immediately told investigators about Mehserle's Taser warning. Orloff had also seen the video of Mehserle looking down at his gun, then up at his fellow officer, in shocked confusion:

Mehsele shocked crop blow-up
Immediately after firing his pistol, Mehserle's jaw drops in shocked surprise.

Given this substantial evidence that the shooting was an accident, no honest jury could come anywhere near to finding that the shooting was beyond a reasonable doubt not an accident. Any direct evidence of an accident creates tons of reasonable doubt. Orloff never should have pressed murder charges. Involuntary manslaughter was the worst officer Mehserle could have been convicted of without a gross miscarriage of justice (and even that depends on the jury's being misled by Orloff's false claim that Grant's hands were both behind his back when he was shot).

Orloff should really be charged with prosecutorial misconduct. He had clear evidence that the shooting WAS an accident and in another act of supreme political cowardice simply lied about this fact in order to appease the racist Oakland mob. They wanted their 200 pounds of white flesh and Orloff did everything in his power to give it to them.

Racially biased law is tyranny

Now the racist mob is rioting and may well rack up a death toll. After the criminal rioters themselves, the biggest share of blame should go to Orloff, for pressing murder charges when there was clear evidence that Grant's shooting was an accident. Instead he assumed that our black community is grotesque enough to want a police officer who is not guilty of murder to be punished for it anyway, and he pandered to that evil. Talk about anti-black racism, presuming that the black community as a whole is the worst moral trash.

That element does exist, but the last thing any responsible person would do is cater to it. It is not the whole community, and hopefully is far from the majority, but whatever its proportion, it should not be given any legitimacy. Government should only serve that part of the population that seeks truth-based justice because the rest are out to violate individual rights, making them a tyrannous element, which even when it attains a majority has no more legitimacy in our system of government than a tyrannous king. Our elected representative all swear an oath never to side with the forces of tyranny.

The press is also culpable for suppressing the truth about Grant's left hand never being under the officers' control. I badgered every broadcast news desk in the bay area for months show the frame by frame video to the public. I badgered every print reporter who was covering the story that they had to tell the public that Orloff's stated grounds for murder charges was provably false. Several assured me that they were taking a look, and I believe them. If my video findings had been aggravating instead of mitigating there can be little doubt they would have been headline news.

Now the racist legal lieutenant of Racist in Chief Obama is thinking about subjecting Mehserle to double jeopardy with a federal civil rights prosecution. Evil trash.

The only one who should be prosecuted for violating anyone's civil rights is Orloff, for flat lying to his constituents that there was no evidence that the shooting was accidental. He knew there was clear evidence of Taser confusion, making an honest murder conviction impossible. He was hoping he could get Mehserle in front of a racist Oakland jury, willing to legally lynch an innocent man.

Another possibility is that Mehserle might have realized at the last instant he was holding his gun, yet still shot because Grant swung his arm up.

Early in the video, when Grant dove on the ground to avoid being handcuffed, his arm goes under and it looks like he could be reaching for his waistband, which is what Mehserle says he thought Grant was doing. Throughout the struggle Grant fought mightily to keep Mehserle from pulling his arm back out, so throughout the struggle Mehserle thought that Grant might be armed (which was the explanation he gave to Officer Pirone right after the shooting "I thought he had a gun").

Suppose that just before he shot (after giving the Taser warning), Mehserle had realized he was actually holding his gun and not his Taser. Right at that moment the video shows Oscar Grant swinging his arm up at Mehserle, who reasonably thought that Grant was armed. That action by Grant would have made the shooting reasonable even if Mehserle did realize at the last instant that he was holding his gun. After all of Grant's fighting, it would be reasonable to think that he was now swinging a gun up.

It this is what happened, Mehserle's realization that he was holding his gun and not his Taser would have to have come at the very last instant, given the video showing him firing before his left hand had come into a support position.

So why mention such an instant-splitting possibility at all? Because this scenario would explain why Mehserle said to Pirone "I thought he had a gun" instead of "I thought I was shooting my Taser." This statement is probably what led to Mehserle's conviction. His verbal reaction was to justify the shooting, not to express surprise at it.

But if Mehserle did at the last instant realize he was holding his gun, just as he saw Grant's arm swinging up at him, it all happened so fast that Mehserle might not have been aware of it. Think it through. Just as he was realizing he was holding his gun, he saw in the same instant a possible deadly threat coming up at him? Only one thing would be clear. Gun or Taser, either way pull the trigger. There is no reason to sort out anything else. Pull the trigger is the one thing that would be clear in a moment of otherwise total confusion.

The extreme politicization of the whole incident was horrendous. I sent my video proof to all the local TV stations that Grant did NOT have both hands behind his back when he was shot but was in the act of swinging his arm up towards Mehserle. Not one of them showed it, or even contacted me, despite my repeated calls to make sure they had received it, and despite the prosecutors constant assertion that Grant DID have both hands behind his back when he was shot. The most prominent factual assertion in the entire case and the press had zero interest in video PROOF that it was false. Disgusting.

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