OAKLAND, Calif. - A passenger waiting to board a BART train at the Pleasant Hill station was stopped by a BART police officer, detained and cited for eating a sandwich, a violation of state law, according to the transit agency. Now the transit agency may be facing a lawsuit.
The 10-minute video was posted on Facebook Friday morning by the man detained, Steve Foster of Concord. Although, his Facebook account uses the name Bill Gluckman. The video, taken by Foster's girlfriend, shows BART police Officer D. McCormick holding onto a bag and not letting it go, which belonged to the BART passenger.
According to the video, officer McCormick told the passenger he was going to be arrested. When the passenger responds by asking if it was for eating, the officer replies that he is being arrested for resisting arrest.
The transit agency responded to questions about the incident on Twitter Friday, saying the incident happened on November 4, and that the passenger was issued a citaton. "We've brought this to the attention of the Chief. We've also sent the video to our Independent Police Audior and he confirms he is reviewing."
In the video, the BART officer calls for backup help. About a minute later, police sirens can be heard in the background. When the other officer arrives, the passenger is handcuffed and removed from the platform.
Foster told KTVU that he was left angry and confused by the incident. "I've never had anything like that happen to me before. I've definitely had run ins with the police before, but that was by far the pettiest," Foster said, calling the incident "childish."
Riders of the mass transit system note that the priorities of BART police are unclear. The agency has been working to curb fare evaders and drug use on the system.
On Twitter, BART followed up on their previous statement, saying "... we asked police why he was handcuffed and was told the individual was refusing to provide his name which is needed for citation and was lawfully handcuffed."
Foster told KTVU he eats breakfast on the run when he uses BART to get to work in San Francisco. The transit agency has signs posted at the station and on trains prohibiting eating. He would like to see the officer disciplined somehow and said paid leave wouldn't work. "I think he really needs to know that he can't approach people the way he did or talk to people the way he did just because he has a badge," Foster said. "I think I was singled out because I was black, to be honest."
Foster said he wanted to share the video, but didn't think it would make the news. He admits he's "not a saint" but also said he's not looking for trouble, especially over eating a sandwich.
BART told KTVU Friday evening, "The individual was not cooperative and was refusing to provide his name, which is needed for a citation and is why the engagement lasted as long as it did."
Officer McCormick said he was initially on the platform looking for an intoxicated woman when he saw Foster eating. Foster says that while he's never been in this situation before, he's considering a lawsuit at the advice of others.
Foster faces a $250 fine and 48 hours of community service. He plans on fighting his citation.