Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO – A former transit police officer who allegedly shot dead an unarmed man on an Oakland train platform on New Year's Day was arrested Tuesday in Nevada, officials said.
A Douglas County jail official said 27-year-old Johannes Mehserle was in custody under a fugitive warrant issued in California. The official would not give their name because the arrest had not been announced. Karen Boyd, a spokeswoman for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, confirmed the arrest and said the mayor's office had been informed of it Tuesday night.
Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff is expected to announce details of the arrest Wednesday. There was no immediate word on what charges Mehserle faces. Witnesses said Mehserle shot 22-year-old Oscar Grant in the back while he was lying facedown on a train platform in Oakland.
Grant and others had been pulled off a train after reports of fighting, as New Year's Eve revelers were shuttling home after midnight. The shooting was captured on several cell phone cameras and widely viewed on the Internet.
The shooting inflamed long-running tensions between law enforcement authorities and many African-American residents in Oakland. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets calling for the prosecution of Mehserle, with one rally last week spiraling into violence and resulting in more than 100 arrests and dozens of businesses damaged.
John Burris, the attorney for Grant's family, said he talked to Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson, on Tuesday night and she was delighted with the news of the arrest. "However it does not bring her son back," Burris said. "But she is happy and pleased that an arrest has occurred." About 1,000 people were expected at another protest on Wednesday to call on Orloff to file criminal charges.
Dereca Blackmon, the co-founder of the Coalition Against Police Execution, which is organizing Wednesday's protest, said she was pleased Mehserle was arrested but still wanted to know more details. "We're disappointed that it took him fleeing the state in order for the law to take some action," she said. "Honestly this situation brings more questions than answers. Why was he fleeing?"
Mehserle resigned his position last week from the Bay Area Rapid Transit.
The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the arrest.Douglas County is 15 miles south of Carson City in northwestern Nevada and includes Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley
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