If Gary Delagnes had been the cop working next to Johannes Mehserle when the now-infamous ex-BART policeman shot Oscar Grant, he knows what he would have said: "What the fuck did you just do?"
The 30-year cop and president of the San Francisco Police Officer Association said that watching the much-traveled Internet videos of Grant's shooting death is especially cringe-worthy for those in the police community, who are baffled by their fellow officer's behavior.
"You watch the chain of events and it's, like, 'What the hell was he doing?'" said Delagnes. "One question a lot of us in law-enforcement have is, OK, the guy looked as though he was in a face-down, prone position. And it looked as though he wasn't going anywhere. So the question is, why was there a taser or
a gun out of his holster?"
Yet while Delagnes can't understand why Mehserle drew a gun, he's ready to explain why he didn't.
"Some of those people breaking windows think this was pre-meditated murder. But no one in their right mind -- even a cop -- would shoot someone in the back in front of four other cops and cameras and witnesses. It's so absurd that people would think this is anything other than an accident. I would bet my kids' lives this was an accident," he said. "The myth of 'cowboy cops' out to shoot somebody, it's just bullshit. I've never met a cop who said 'tonight at work I want to shoot somebody.'"
Delagnes went on to describe the shooting as "a terrible fuck-up."
Delagnes confirmed what a pair of veteran lawyers told SF Weekly -- Mehserle is, to the union head's knowledge, the first Bay Area cop charged with murder over an on-the-job killing.
While Delagnes uttered "Jesus Christ!" when notified that Mehserle is being charged with murder by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, he said it made sense considering the young ex-policeman's obstinate refusal to answer any questions.
"I think that, probably, the message being sent [by the D.A.] is, 'You know what, Dude? You don't want to cooperate, so we're going with the max until you tell us what happened.' ... This guy doesn't want to talk. The D.A. said, 'Fine, fuck you then.'"