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The U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division will investigate a white Oakland police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man on a crowded train platform, a case reminiscent of the racially charged 1992 police beating of Rodney King.

The federal government said it will step in after officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted Thursday of a lesser involuntary manslaughter charge, touching off angry protests that damaged stores and netted dozens of arrests.

The justice department's civil rights division will conduct the review along with the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco and the FBI, said spokesman Alejandro Miyar, who declined further comment. The investigation will determine whether the case warrants federal prosecution

Federal officials planned to begin their review at the conclusion of the state's case against Mehserle, who still faces sentencing. The next hearing was set for Aug. 6.

The Los Angeles jury's verdict raised concerns of a repeat of the rioting that followed the shooting on New Year's Day in 2009 on an Oakland train platform. The trial was moved to Los Angeles following the riots.


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