Update: In an article that came out on KTVU on Monday, one day after this article was posted, BART Police Chief Gary Gee stated that Johannes Mehserle was carrying a Taser gun at the time of the shooting – on the opposite side of his firearm side. If this picture was indeed taken the night of the shooting, it does make you wonder where would that Taser be?

BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant in cold blood. That much is certain.

Whether he intended to pull his Taser gun instead of his Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol boils down to whether he was even carrying a Taser gun in the first place. BART police officials have neither confirmed nor denied whether he was carrying one, which is an indicator he probably wasn’t.

And the photo above, supposedly taken from the night of the shooting and placed on a wanted poster by Bay Area activists, doesn’t immediately show a Taser gun on his left side – the opposite side of his firearm – where police say he would have been carrying the Taser.

Immediately visible in the photo is a nightstick, a radio, what appears to be a flashlight, what appears to be enclosed case of some sort and perhaps even a pair of gloves in his back pocket.

Could the Taser gun be inside the enclosed case? Wouldn’t this defeat the purpose of being able to reach for it quickly?

You be the judge. Let me know if you see a Taser gun on the left side of his belt. This is what it would look like.


The other question is why has he not been brought into custody? He is no longer a cop, so he doesn’t have that immunity anymore.

Doesn’t the fact that a 27-year-old cop who just became a father would prefer to resign rather than speak to internal affairs indicate some sort of culpability? Doesn’t this mean he could be a possible flight risk?

The truth is, had he not resigned, he would have been granted a more favorable interrogation environment than if he chooses to give a statement as a civilian, according to guidelines outlined in the California Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights Act.

Under Section 3303, the guidelines state the following:

  • Officers have the right to decide when they will be interrogated.
  • Officers have the right to know by whom they will be interrogated.
  • Officers have the right to know the nature of the interrogation before the actual interrogation.
  • Officers are protected from threats and profane language during interrogation.
  • Officers shall not be lured by promises and rewards during interrogation.
  • Officers must be interrogated for a “reasonable period” of time and must be allowed to attend to their “personal physical necessities”.
  • Officers under interrogation will be protected from media access or from having their photos distributed to the media without their personal consent.

As pointed out in an email by sharp-eyed Photography is Not a Crime reader BJ:

All of these things are not offered to you and I!
The police can question us at any time, we are not compensated when it happens. They can lie to us, promise us and stop us from going to the bathroom. They will contact the media and provide information. These are all methods used to break someone…

And then there is the use of force continuum; a series of escalating guidelines police officers are trained to use before resorting to deadly force. Although these guidelines are not universal, they are generally as follows:

1. Physical Presence
2. Soft Hands
3. Mace or Pepper Spray
(A K-9 unit would fall here)
4. Hard Hands
5. Police Baton, etc.
6. Threat of Deadly Force
7. Deadly Force

It appears that Mehserle skipped a step or two.


I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar.

Read more Photography is Not a Crime coverage of the BART shooting.

BART police shoot unarmed man; caught on citizen video

Could a Taser gun be so easily confused for a firearm?

New video of BART shooting emerges offering clearest view so far (and audio)

Slow motion video of BART shooting video shows more details