Four days and (as many media briefings) after BART police shot and killed a man at the Civic Center station, details are nearly as sketchy as they were immediately following the shooting. While some argue that this is the behavior of a cautious and thorough investigations, others are growing concerned that the lack of transparency is the sign of a defensive posture from the transit agency.
In fact, it was SF Weekly, not the transit agency, that alerted the public that the man killed in the shooting was Charles Hill, 45, with “no fixed address.” The Bay Citizen says that Hill was identified “because his fingerprints were in a database.”
As you might recall, BART had received reports around 9:30 p.m. on Sunday of a white man wearing a tie-dye shirt and green military fatigue pants who was carrying an open container of alcohol–which is illegal in a BART station. A call a few minutes later into BART dispatch said the man was drunk and “wobbly on the platform.”
BART deputy police chief Daniel Hartwig said the two officers arrived at the Civic Center station on an East Bay-bound train at 9:45 p.m. and confronted the man, who they say was aggressive and combative and didn’t comply with orders.
He was armed with a knife and a broken alcohol bottle he was wielding as a weapon, BART officials said. A minute after the confrontation began, the man was shot.
One of the officers suffered minor cuts in the confrontation, Hartwig said.
Medical personnel performed CPR on the man, who was shot in his front torso area. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead around 10:45 p.m.
In a Wednesday press conference announced to media less that a hour before it was scheduled to begin (apparently many reporters are not reliant on BART to get where they need to go!), one reporter asked “We were just here yesterday, it seems as though this is the same as what was released yesterday, is there anything new today?”
The answer to that question appeared to be “no,” as nearly every question asked was met with a variation on “the investigation is ongoing.” You can read the transcript of the presser here — strangely, the YouTube video of the media event was made private and is no longer visible. (Needless to say, the Appeal’s given BART spokesperson Linton Johnson a call to see what’s up with that. Update 7 PM: According to Johnson, the video was removed when it should have been replaced with a higher-quality version. This has been rectified, and you can see the video on their site or in the story above above. )
Meanwhile, after the Bay Citizen spoke with one of the, BART says, nearly 40 witnesses to the shooting, some are saying that BART’s description of events doesn’t quite ring true.
SF resident Myleen Hollero told the BC that the man the Weekly says was Charles Hill was “definitely” not “running or lunging” toward the officers. He “just looked like a drunk hippie” she said.
Hollero says that she has tried unsuccessfully to relay her eyewitness account to authorities, but when “she attempted to contact SFPD” KCBS says, “she was told it sounded like a situation for BART. Upon calling BART with her story, she was only able to get through to a recording.”
While Hollero’s report inspired the SFBG to describe the shooting as “fishier and fishier”, over at the Chronicle, their editorial board maintains that “there seems little controversy over whether some form of force was justified in this case.”
However, even they say that “investigators need to take a hard look at why the lethal option was chosen” over the Taser we now know that at least one of the officers involved in the shooting was carrying.
The one new piece of information released yesterday: BART says they *might* release surveillance video of the shooting, that is, if the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office allows it.
Then again, maybe SF Weekly will get that out to the public first, too.