The preliminary hearing for former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on charges that he murdered an unarmed passenger on New Year’s Day began Monday with tight security and a protest by about 100 people.

The hearing before Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay, which is expected to take up to two weeks, will determine whether there is enough evidence to have Mehserle, 27, ordered to stand trial on murder charges for the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III, who was shot in the back at the Fruitvale station in Oakland.

The shooting occurred after Mehserle and other BART officers responded to reports that two groups of men were fighting on a train.

Todd Chretien of the Community Council, a group that helped coordinate a protest outside the courthouse where Mehserle’s hearing is taking place, said, "Five and a half months ago we all watched Oscar Grant murdered in cold blood on the BART platform, but there’s a gap between that event and making sure that justice is done.”

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