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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Former S.F. Police Chief Frank Jordan Doesn't Buy Johannes Mehserle's Story

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 1:45 PM

click to enlarge Johannes Mehserle
  • Johannes Mehserle
Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle may manage to convince several members of the jury of his peers that he really meant to Tase Oscar Grant when he instead shot him dead on Jan. 1. But, with the defense today resting in Mehserle's high-profile trial, the youthful cop hasn't managed to convince several high-ranking members of his own profession contacted by SF Weekly.

"My personal opinion is, [Mehserle's story] is pretty hard to believe," said former San Francisco police chief and mayor Frank Jordan. "I don't see myself ever pulling out a handgun when I wanted to use a Taser. The handgun is absolute last resort. The Taser is supposed to minimize the situation so you don't kill somebody. It's an interesting alibi and I'm not sure it's one I buy into."

Frank Jordan
  • Frank Jordan
Jordan also didn't buy into what the prosecution is essentially claiming: That Mehserle coldly decided he was going to murder a prone victim in full view of a platform full of witnesses. Instead, the former police chief believes Mehserle "was under emotional stress," panicked, drew a weapon and fired. "I would certainly not say it was a deliberate attempt to kill somebody, but he used the wrong weapon and now he's got to live up to it," said Jordan. "To me, as a police officer, he should have been in charge of the situation. And he wasn't. You don't go down to the emotional level of the suspect you're dealing with."

Another former high-ranking San Francisco police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity to SF Weekly, saw parallels between the Rodney King case and this one -- and not just the obvious connection of a potentially violent fallout if Grant's supporters are displeased with the verdict.

Just as the officers who pummeled King were acquitted in part because they claimed they were relying on their prior training, Mehserle's counsel has claimed his prior training -- or lack thereof -- led him to inadvertently kill Grant. While that might get the former BART cop off the hook, the former SFPD higher-up told SF Weekly, it could also open up BART to a massive negligence suit.

Jordan, however, didn't buy that line either. "He was trained. He can't now say he had faulty training. They don't train you to pull out your handgun and not your Taser.

"He's got to pay the penalty, whatever it's going to be," the former chief continued. "If he's now saying he didn't get proper training, I find that hard to believe."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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