LOS ANGELES, July 8 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles jury Thursday found former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of Oscar Grant III.
The jury reached its verdict after one full day of deliberation on the question of whether Mehserle should be acquitted or found guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter in the Jan. 1, 2009, killing in Oakland, Calif., in which Mehserle said he mistakenly drew his pistol instead of his stun gun.
Mehserle's trial was moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles because of racial tensions and excessive media coverage, KTVU-TV, San Francisco, said. Mehserle is white, and Grant was black.
Witnesses shot video of the killing, in which Mehserle is shown firing a shot into Grant's back as Grant lay face-down. Mehserle resigned from BART one week after the shooting -- at around the same time as protesters turned violent in Oakland, Calif., smashing storefronts and setting cars afire.
Law enforcement departments across the Bay Area were bracing for possible violence and riots in the aftermath of the verdict Thursday.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement urging the public "to remain calm in light of the verdict and not to resort to violence."
"I have spoken to Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and have assured him we are well prepared to assist in maintaining order."
Dellums -- in a public appearance last week with police, fire, community organizers and other elected officials -- said he understood public anger and pain over the Grant's death but he said the appropriate response is to work for justice.
"We need to respond with strength, dignity and respect," he said.