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Common Call Turns Into Deady Encounter for BART Officers

Common Call Turns Into Deady Encounter for BART Officers

Video Capture

San Francisco Chronicle via YellowBrix

July 05, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO – A BART police officer shot and killed a man on the platform of the Civic Center Station in San Francisco late Sunday after the man used a bottle as a weapon and drew a knife, transit agency officials said.

What started as a common police call – a report of a man with an open bottle of alcohol – escalated into a fatal shooting within one minute of officers arriving, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said Monday.

“There’s no such thing as a routine situation,” Rainey said. “It’s very fluid.”

One of the two officers who first arrived on scene had a Taser stun gun but did not use it. When asked why not, Rainey replied: “At this point, I can’t answer that question, but a Taser is a tool. When you’re confronted with deadly force … it’s a tool an officer can choose to use.”

The man on the platform became belligerent when he first saw the officers, hurled a nearly full bottle of liquor at them, which smashed, then advanced with a knife, said Harry Stern, an attorney representing the two officers. One officer suffered a minor cut to his arm in the incident, officials said.

“This is a completely justified use of force in response to an attack,” Stern said. “It would have been foolhardy, risky and not in keeping with police training practices to use a Taser against a knife. That’s not what they’re for.”

Rainey said he was “comfortable” with how officers handled the encounter “from what I know at this point.”

BART Director Lynette Sweet was more cautious.

“That one-minute interval really stood out for me,” Sweet said. “Then I realized a lot of things can happen in a minute. I don’t want to rush to judgment on our officers.”


BART police disclosed only some details about the shooting, which was partially captured on the station’s security cameras. Rainey said he would not release the video unless required to under disclosure laws.

There are now parallel criminal investigations into the shooting, with San Francisco police conducting the lead inquiry, officials said. A San Francisco police spokesman declined to discuss the investigation Monday. Report of alcohol

The deadly encounter began after BART police dispatch received a call from their operations communication center at 9:34 p.m. of a man in a tie-dye T-shirt with military-style fatigue pants walking around with an open bottle of alcohol, Rainey said.

Seven minutes later, BART police received an updated report that the man was a “wobbly drunk,” raising concern that he could fall onto the tracks, Rainey said.

Two officers – one a six-year veteran of the force, the other a BART officer for 18 months – arrived on the platform aboard a train at 9:45 p.m., Rainey said.

Within one minute, the man had been shot in the “front torso area,” Rainey said. He was pronounced dead about an hour later at San Francisco General Hospital, police said.

Rainey refused to disclose exactly what transpired after officers arrived, including which officer was cut in the altercation, which officer fired his weapon, or how many shots were fired. A report to BART directors, though, said three shell casings were recovered.

“There were a number of people on that platform” during the shooting, and BART investigators are hoping more witnesses will come forward, Rainey said. “We want their independent recollection.”

Both officers have been placed on routine administrative leave. Neither was identified, but the chief said he knew them both and described them as “just average, ordinary guys.”

Neither BART nor San Francisco police would identify the victim, referring questions to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office, which did not return calls.

The shooting was the second to involve a BART officer since a video-recorded shooting on New Year’s Day 2009, in which Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed unarmed train rider Oscar Grant at Oakland’s Fruitvale Station, prompting a murder charge.

Mehserle, who shot Grant in the back after police tried to handcuff him, testified at trial that he meant to subdue Grant with a Taser and accidentally fired his gun. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and recently released after serving half of a two-year sentence.

Sensitive to claims that the Grant shooting had a racial element – Mehserle is white, Grant was black – BART said that the man shot at the Civic Center Station was white, and that the two officers who responded were white and Asian. Chase near Fruitvale

Last July, BART and Oakland police officers reported shooting and killing a man who had charged officers with a knife in each hand after a chase. The officers had tried, unsuccessfully, to subdue the man with Tasers, officials said. BART officers got involved because the chase began near the Fruitvale Station.

Rainey defended his officers’ policing methods, saying improvements had been made since Grant’s shooting, including training to de-escalate confrontational situations.

BART police officers are not overly aggressive. … They’re out there trying to keep the system safe,” Rainey said. “Anybody who thinks that officers wake up in the morning and want to be in these type of situations is just dead wrong.”

San Francisco police ask anyone with information about the shooting to call (415) 575-4444. Callers can remain anonymous. BART police ask anyone with information to call (510) 464-7040.


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  • Gold_max50

    CandidDebate

    almost 3 years ago

    42 Comments

    OK OK last comment on this from me till someone answers a question, I read where Bart Police has had most of the municipalities along the Bart lines sign off so that if there is a shooting by Bart Police that Bart Police do the investigation and not the Governing municipalities that the shooting happened. San Francisco is one of the only cities that did not sign on to that and that is why there are parallel investigations. Ok My Question to the men in woman in blue. Do you think if your are working for a agency that has a multi district area of work that only your own force should investigate incidents or should there always be a independent investigation ?? and if I ask to explain the yes or no please and thank you

  • Gold_max50

    CandidDebate

    almost 3 years ago

    42 Comments

    Oh yeah Hall, the guys name that was killed in this article, was a known homeless alcoholic with a slew of arrests for crimes related to homelessness, defecating, urinating, drunk in public, and for over 15 years he was a known homeless man. fifteen twenty years on the street probably doing god know what drugs. He was obviously crazy. I am just glad no one else was hurt.

  • Gold_max50

    CandidDebate

    almost 3 years ago

    42 Comments

    Sadly it did not matter the flames where lit by the media and the Hippy, Progressive Liberals in the Bay Area used this as a excuse to have a "protest". Bart I read has only had Six Fatal shootings in the entire time Bart police have been around I think they been roughly the same time BART has which is thirty years. Only thing I hear people disparage them about is three of the six police related fatalities have been since the Oscar Grant fiasco. Obviously with that fiasco. Mehsehrle was not properly trained or he himself as a person was a moron. I do not think that should reflect on a entire Police force nor I other police. I think 99% of people with a Badge are good people. That one percent though can be so bad it it colors everyone a ugly blue.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    MACK2014

    almost 3 years ago

    168 Comments

    ALEXY...... GOOD CALL

  • Flags_and_stars_max50

    djs2v

    almost 3 years ago

    5628 Comments

    Bump alexy

  • American_flag_eagle_max50

    NewYork911

    almost 3 years ago

    1672 Comments

    Good Shoot...and shame on you for trying to make this a race issue. Bad guy with knife gets stopped...PERIOD!

  • Justice-400_max50

    clobster

    almost 3 years ago

    1552 Comments

    If the guy was a minority, it'll be an S storm. If not, it'll probably go away pretty quickly.

  • Img_1050_max50

    Irishcop1961

    almost 3 years ago

    46218 Comments

    See the threat, stop the threat. Go home at the end of your shift.

  • Uniphone1_max50

    batman2944

    almost 3 years ago

    738 Comments

    “This is a completely justified use of force in response to an attack,” Stern said. “It would have been foolhardy, risky and not in keeping with police training practices to use a Taser against a knife. That’s not what they’re for.”

    I like this answer far better than the Chief's.

    "Neither BART nor San Francisco police would identify the victim....,"

    Victim?? Surely they're referring to the officers and the public!!! In which case, it should be 'victims' (plural). That said, I'm thankful that no officers or civilians were hurt. Sounds like a good job of protecting the public!!

    "Train for the Fight"

  • Helicopter_max50

    DD3

    almost 3 years ago

    132 Comments

    I think the fact that the incident lasted a minute shows that the Officers involved did not "rush in", but acted in a professional manner. The man with the knife made the decision, not the officers.
    And we do live in sad times when the race of all parties involved has to be publicized in order to avoid a public outcry. Sickening really.

  • Img_1050_max50

    Irishcop1961

    almost 3 years ago

    46218 Comments

    Bump alexy.

  • 2011_range_day_2-19-10_max50

    USLawman1983

    almost 3 years ago

    1572 Comments

    The Mesherle/Grant event will be brought up by the Bay area media for years to come. So just anticipate it to better deal with it. This shooting sounds righteous to me. Seems the chief believes that as well. We all know tasers are not the tool for deadly weapon confrontation. Good job to the officers.

  • Joefriday_max50

    alexy

    almost 3 years ago

    3970 Comments

    What a utterly biased article. Why interject the color or the Ocar grant case at all in this? The reporter and the editor of the San Faransisco Chronicle are merely trying to fan the flames of stupidity over a good shooting.

  • Picture_100_max50

    crowfeeder

    almost 3 years ago

    928 Comments

    Hopefully this incident does not escalate into a Mehserle type media situation. The actions of the press caused many of the actions in Oakland. The press can fuel the fire that rages in some of the local San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area. Shootings are horrible for everyone to include the officer. The media portrays the situation in hindsight which is allowed, fortunately hindsight is not allowed by the Supreme Court for trying cops who use their service weapons on duty. Good luck to the officers involved.

  • Warn_a_brother_black_max50

    too40shorty

    almost 3 years ago

    394 Comments

    “At this point, I can’t answer that question, but a Taser is a tool. When you’re confronted with deadly force … it’s a tool an officer can choose to use.”

    Neither was identified, but the chief said he knew them both and described them as “just average, ordinary guys.”

    Deadly Force = Deadly Force. A guy coming at you with a knife is not the time to use your ECD. Nice way to describe your officers, Chief. Average, ordinary guys.... Good job to both involved,

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