One of the two BART police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man at San Francisco’s Civic Center station on Sunday night was equipped with a Taser but didn’t use it, BART’s police chief said today.
Chief Kenton Rainey said at a news conference at BART headquarters in Oakland this morning, however, that it appears the shooting was justified.
“When confronted with deadly force, (an officer) can choose to use a gun or not,” Rainey said.
BART officers and San Francisco police are working on separate but parallel investigations into what happened Sunday night at 9:46 p.m. when one of the two BART officers shot the man on the platform at the Civic Center station, Rainey said.
BART officials had received reports around 9:30 p.m. of a white man wearing a tie-dye shirt and green military fatigue pants with an open container of alcohol–which is illegal in a BART station. A call into BART dispatch said the man was drunk and “wobbly on the platform,” Rainey said.
Two officers–one white, the other Asian–arrived at the Civic Center station on a train from the Millbrae direction at 9:45 p.m., and a confrontation occurred between the suspect and officers.
Rainey said the suspect, estimated to be between 30 and 50 years old, was armed with a knife and a broken alcohol bottle he was wielding as a weapon. A minute after the confrontation began, one officer used his service weapon to shoot the man.
One of the officers was carrying a Taser at the time, Rainey said. He did not say whether the officer who fired his gun was the same one carrying the Taser.
Medical personnel performed CPR on the man, who was shot in his front torso area. He was then transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead around 10:45 p.m., Rainey said.
His name has not yet been released.
One of the officers suffered minor cuts to his arms but was otherwise uninjured, and no one else was hurt in the shooting, Rainey said.
The two officers have been placed on administrative leave while San Francisco police investigate the shooting and BART conducts an administrative probe. One of the officers involved has been on the BART police force for six years, and the other for 18 months, Rainey said.
They are now with family, Rainey added.
“Anybody who thinks officers wake up and want to be in this type of situation is just dead wrong,” the police chief said.
This is BART’s second officer-involved shooting since the infamous Oscar Grant shooting on New Year’s Day 2009 when former BART officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed unarmed Grant, 22, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland.
Last July, two BART and three Oakland police officers shot and killed a man near the Fruitvale BART station after he was reportedly charging at officers while holding a knife in each hand.
Sunday’s shooting at the Civic Center station is the first BART officer-involved shooting in San Francisco in many years, Rainey said.
Surveillance video did catch some of the confrontation, and there were witnesses on the platform, many of whom are being questioned in the investigation, Rainey said.
Investigators ask anyone with information on the shooting to contact (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 to remain anonymous.
The Civic Center station, which was closed to both BART and San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail vehicle passengers Sunday night, reopened this morning.
Trains are running on a Sunday schedule due to the Independence Day holiday, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News