From the excellent SF Weekly live blog
Veteran Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — who has sued Bay Area police departments countless times — told SF Weekly he had mixed feelings about the verdict.
In 40 years as a Bay Area lawyer and community organizer, this, he says, is the first time a police officer has been convicted of a criminal charge for shooting a black person. “When I first came to the Bay Area as a young person, I don’t think this would have been charged, much less convicted,” Chanin says. So that’s the good side for him.
On the other hand, Chanin — and, doubtless many others — had trouble buying Mehserle’s story that he consciously meant to Tase Grant and not shoot him. “He did not tell anyone about this so-called mistake, including his friends until much later. He waited so long — over a year,” says the lawyer. (In fact, he waited until he had a veteran lawyer of his own, Michael Rains). “It’s unlikely that if this had been anyone other than a police officer that the verdict would have been as minimal as it was … But I have watched police get off [without punishment] for years; the prosecutions are few and far-between and the convictions are even rarer than that. So I have mixed emotions.”