Former BART Cop Marysol Domenici, one of the first officers to arrive on the scene at the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was shot in the back while lying face down on the ground with another BART Cop's knee on the back of his neck, took the stand yesterday in Los Angeles. Domenici proceeded to discredit herself by giving statements that contradicted her previous testimony as well as the videotape evidence from that New Year's Morning in 2009.
In previous court testimony given in Alameda County, Domenici depicted a 'chaotic' scene where 50 people "confronted" her on the platform in a threatening manner as soon as she arrived on the scene. She repeated similar testimony yesterday in Los Angeles:
"I saw people on the train and people on the platform," she said.
"I remember people on the train calling me lady cop, and they were singing the lady cop song as I ran by."
Stein then showed a videotape recorded by a platform security camera that showed Domenici running down an empty platform with no passengers exiting the train.
Asked about the 50 people she saw, Domenici said they could not be seen on the video.
Throughout his questioning, as Stein showed videos from different angles, he repeatedly asked Domenici to point out the 50 people she had just described as being on the platform threatening her.
She never could, and at one point she said, "When I said the platform, to me the train is an extension of the platform."
During pre-trial proceedings in Alameda County, her depiction of a dangerous, threatening, and chaotic situation was also discredited by video footage, so it's a little odd that she would repeat the same lies under oath again. In general, she did portay herself as a witness with serious credibility issues:
Each time she was questioned, Domenici gave rambling answers justifying her reactions, sparking several requests by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry for her to limit her answers to the question asked.
"Listen carefully to his questions," Perry said at one point.
"Try to focus on the questions that are asked," the judge said later.
Worse still she completely blew up a defense contention that Grant had touched her on the forearm:
Domenici said she does not remember that Grant ever touched her but said she was told by her attorney that a video shows he did.
When shown the video, Domenici said she could not clearly see Grant touching her.
"I don't remember Grant grabbing my arm," she said.
Mehserle's attorneys have attempted to justify Grant's murder by painting a picture of a near-riot taking place around the BART Officers as they arrested Grant and several other young men. The defense contends that the chaotic scene confused Officer Mehserle, who mistakenly drew his pistol instead of his taser. However, videotape footage, as well as Domenici's testimony prove otherwise:
"My first reaction was to look at the officers' faces because I didn't know who got shot," she said. "I just heard people saying, 'He got shot; he got shot.'"
Asked if that prompted her to take out her gun for safety, Domenici said it did not.
"Nobody had their guns out, none of the other officers," she said.
Clearly, none of the officers on the scene felt physically threatened enough to unholster their firearms. One officer, Anthony Pirone, who was fired along with Domenici, even punched Grant in the head minutes before Mehserle killed him. Yet the passengers on the train stayed on the train, and did not in any way appear to pose a physical threat to any of the officers. Even Grant himself, who was face-down on the platform, with Pirone's knee on the back of his neck, did not pose ANY physical threat.
So the real question is, did Mehserle murder Grant because of something Grant said, or is Mehserle really so incompetent that he forgot A) that it was New Year's (and therefore he should have known that he was getting paid overtime to deal with drunken revelers), and B) the difference between a taser and a handgun?
Incompetence like that is unacceptable, and should carry the same weight as a murder charge, especially in light of the fact that Mehserle was paid a lot of money to know the difference, and especially in light of the fact that Grant used his sister's cell phone to take a picture of Mehserle pointing a taser at him (which proves that he knew the difference between the two weapons) minutes prior to his getting assaulted/getting murdered.