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Partner says Mehserle never gave him indication shooting was an accident

(6/23) — 15:17 PDT — LOS ANGELES — The regular partner of Johannes Mehserle, the former BART Police officer being tried for murder in the shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009, admitted today that Mehserle never told him that the shooting was an accident.

BART Police Officer Jon Woffinden, called to the stand yesterday by defense attorney Michael Rains, had said that he had thought that Mehserle had deployed his Taser, and said that he had a personal as well as professional relationship with him.

But when prosecutor David Stein asked him today “did Mehserle ever give you any indication that what happened was an accident?” he answered no.

Stein also played back video in which former BART Police Officer Tony Pirone can be heard using a racial slur to Woffinden. Woffinden said that he could not make out what was being said.

Woffinden had said yesterday that Pirone was a close friend and a very competent police officer.

Later, BART Police Officer Stewart Lehman, who trained Mehserle in Tasers, took the stand.

Lehman said that he had helped persuade BART Police to introduce Tasers, and presented slides on BART’s Taser policy.

Asked by Rains whether it was “always beneficial to go above the minimum” number of hours of training, Lehman agreed. BART required officers to have six hours of training on Tasers at the time.

“You can always increase the number of hours,” he said.

Lehman also told the court that due to budgetary restraints, BART provided one Taser per beat instead of assigning each officer an individual Taser.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in February that this policy extended to Taser holsters as well, leading to a situation where BART Police officers did not always wear their Tasers on the same side.

Testimony continues this afternoon in Los Angeles, where the case has been moved due to concerns over whether Mehserle could receive a fair trial in the Bay Area.

The California Beat and The Campanil’s joint continuing coverage of the Johannes Mehserle BART Shooting trial is funded in part through Spot.Us. Visit our special trial news page and help fund this project.