Disgraced BART Cop Hires Barry Bonds' Lawyer -- But Don't Expect a Legal Home Run
It was only a matter of time before Johannes Mehserle, the ex-BART officer accused of murdering unarmed passenger Oscar Grant, hired Pleasant Hill-based attorney Mike Rains.
While the general public probably recognizes Rains primarily for his work representing Barry Bonds, in local legal circles he's known as the go-to guy for cops accused of misconduct. Rains most (in)famously represented one of the Oakland officers nicknamed "The Riders," who'd been accused of brutalizing suspects and planting drugs on innocent people to frame them. With Rains' help, the three Riders who stood trial (twice) beat the rap.
I covered the Riders case for the East Bay Express, and I have a lot of respect for Rains' abilities as a lawyer. But I just don't see him pulling off a miracle in the BART case. There's no way he wins an acquittal for Mehserle. How do you argue with the video? At best, Rains could persuade the jury that it was an accident (involuntary manslaughter) because Mehserle meant to pull his Taser gun and not his gun gun. Even if that was Mehserle's intention, it's a flawed excuse because the situtation didn't call for using a Taser. Grant was on his stomach and appeared contained. (You can read Rains' take on the case to SF Weekly before Mehserle hired him here).
Of course, damning video didn't convict the L.A. cops who beat the crap out of Rodney King. Perhaps Rains' best hope is to get the trial moved to Simi Valley.