The murder trial of white Bay Area Rapid Transit cop Johannes Mehserle was moved to Los Angeles because of concerns about the high-level of emotion and strong opinions surrounding his New Year's Day 2009 shooting of an unarmed black man on an Oakland subway platform, but the change of venue didn't dissuade about 100 protesters, many from the Bay Area, who showed up for a hearing in the case downtown Friday anyway.
"This is the Rodney King case all over again,'' said Rachel Jackson, part of a group of people that traveled from Oakland to L.A. for the hearing. "It's unquestionable that race was a factor.''
The fatal shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was alleged to have been resisting arrest, was caught on tape and widely viewed on YouTube.
Mehserle, 28, has argued through is attorneys that he was reaching for a Taser and accidentally grabbed his service handgun instead before opening fire. Charged with murder, he's been free in lieu of $3 million bail.
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Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry set the next hearing for Feb 19, but said testimony likely wouldn't start until May. He issued a ruling prohibiting parties in the case from speaking to the media, and he banned cameras in the courtroom.