After threatening a lawsuit nearly two months ago, the brother of a man shot and killed by BART police in July, 2011 filed a suit against the transit agency Wednesday.

Charles Hill, 45, was killed on the platform at the Civic Center station on July 3, 2011.

According to Police Chief Kenton Rainey, two officers, James A. Crowell (who at the time of the shooting was planning to leave BART for the FBI) and Myron Lee arrived at the station at 9:45 p.m. on July 3 after BART received reports that Hill was carrying an open bottle of alcohol and was wobbling on the platform.

At that point, surveillance video released by BART (you can watch it, above) indicates that Hill threw a bottle and knife at the two officers, said Rainey. According to Rainey, Lee was injured, and both “felt threatened in some way.”

Cromwell, who also was carrying a Taser but chose to use his gun instead, Rainey said, fired three shots, killing Hill.

Weeks of protests against BART for both the shooting and the transit agency’s controversial decision to cut off cell phone service in the station to thwart demonstrations followed.

In November 2011, the Ex reported that Oakland attorney John Burris, well known as the lawyer who represented the family of another man shot by BART police, Oscar Grant, had been retained by Hill’s family. He told the paper he expected to file a suit in early December.

“I wouldn’t be taking this case if I didn’t think it was a very strong one,” Burris told the Ex at the time.

However, it wasn’t until Wednesday that the suit was filed, reports the Chron.

According to the Contra Costa Times, the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland by Burris on behalf Hill’s brother, Chris Hill, the suit names BART, Crowell (who has indeed joined the FBI), Lee, and Rainey as defendants.

“Chris Hill seeks funeral expenses and punitive damages for wrongful death and civil rights violations,” reports Courthouse News.

According to Courthouse News, Chris Hill says that BART police gave “conflicting and confusing commands” to his brother, before using deadly force.

“Inexplicably, Officer Crowell unlawfully shot Mr. Hill three times in the chest,” the Chron reports the suit reads.

“They shot and killed Mr. Hill at a time when they themselves were not in danger,” Burris told the Contra Costa Times.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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