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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BART Chief "Comfortable" with Officer-Involved Shooting

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 7:45 AM

Shooting in San Fran
  • Shooting in San Fran
BART is still reeling from the effects of the Oscar Grant shooting, with emotions resurfacing a few weeks ago when former BART cop Johannes Mehserle was released early from prison. Now the transit agency is again in an uneasy position after an officer shot and killed an unidentified man on the platform this weekend.

Chief Kenton Rainey defended the officer's actions, telling reporters that the officer who shot the knife-wielding man, who was apparently drunk, feared for his safety. And yes, the officer had a Taser, but chose not to use it.

"At this point, I can't answer that question," Rainey told reporters when asked why the BART cop didn't use it instead of his gun. "But the Taser is a tool and when you're confronted with deadly force ... it's a tool that the officer can choose to use, or cannot choose to use.

That defense is much different than the one that landed Mehserle in jail after he was convicted of Grant's manslaughter. He claimed he meant to grab for his Taser, but accidentally pulled his gun and fatally shot Grant -- who was unarmed and facedown on the Fruitvale station platform.

That incident stoked riots in downtown Oakland, where things turned ugly.

What's different about this shooting is that the officers were dealing with an armed man, BART officials say. At about 9:45 p.m. on Sunday, officers were called to the Civic Center station after someone reported a white man in a tie-dyed T-shirt and green fatigues stumbling around holding an open liquor bottle.

What happened in the seconds leading up to the shooting is unclear. But Rainey says a confrontation occurred between the officers and the suspect, who was armed with a knife and using the bottle as a weapon.

Medical authorities told SF Weekly this morning they have not yet identified the victim, who was described only as a white man aged 30 to 50.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the agency and the District Attorney's Office investigates.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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