BART Police Chief “Concerned” Over How Officers Handled Naked Acrobat Situation

BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said today that he has ordered an internal review of how his department responded to an incident at a San Francisco station last month in which a man stripped naked and harassed people.

“If there were any procedural failings we will correct them, and if there were performance issues with our officers we will address them,” Rainey said.

He said he expects a preliminary report on the May 10 incident at the 16th Street/Mission station to be presented at BART’s Citizen Review Board meeting next week.

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Rainey also announced today that retired police chief Patrick Oliver will conduct an assessment of reforms BART police have made since unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III was fatally shot by former Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009.

He said he asked Oliver, who formerly headed four police departments in Ohio, to assess BART’s reform efforts because he was the lead evaluator in a review that the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE, conducted after Grant was killed.

Rainey, who has headed BART’s Police Department for three years, said getting Oliver to review the agency’s progress is “a perfect opportunity to get another set of eyes” and is “a win-win for us.”

Rainey said Oliver will begin his review in July. He said he hopes it will go quickly because Oliver already is familiar with BART, and the aim is for Oliver to submit his findings by September.

NOBLE’s report in April 2010 was critical of BART police and recommended changes to the department’s recruiting, hiring, training, use-of-force and investigative practices.

Rainey, who said he has made a “personal and professional commitment” to reforming BART’s police department, said he thinks the agency has made “tremendous progress” in implementing the recommended changes.

However, he said, “the naked man incident has given me pause and has me concerned about how far we still have to go.”

Rainey didn’t specify what about the BART police response to the incident had troubled him.

Yeiner Perez Garizabalo, 24, a trained acrobat, is charged with two felony counts of false imprisonment, four misdemeanor counts of battery on public transportation and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery for the May 10 incident.

Garizabalo allegedly ran naked through the station, grabbed several passengers, kicked a BART employee, and did a handstand and the splits on fare gates, among other acrobatic moves.

The incident was captured on video, and the video went viral several weeks later.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said Tuesday that BART police never filed an arrest report for the incident so prosecutors weren’t notified about it until after the video came to light.

Rainey declined to say if his agency had filed an arrest report but said that will be one of the issues that the internal investigation will explore.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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