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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

BART Cop Won't Be Charged in Shooting Death of Charles Hill

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 7:45 AM

The District Attorney has concluded that BART cop James Crowell was defending himself when he shot and killed 45-year-old Charles Hill, a knife-wielding homeless man who was high on alcohol and a deadly amount of meth that night at the Civic Center BART station.

After a seven-month investigation, District Attorney George Gascón decided that Crowell acted appropriately and was in fear of his life when he shot Hill on July 3, 2011. In fact, investigators praised Crowell for acting in a calm and professional manner, according to the DA's report.

The report, released yesterday to media outlets, gives the public a first-time glimpse of what motivated the shooting. As Crowell explains, Hill was on the platform waving and spilling a bottle of Smirnoff vodka. When the officer asked Hill to "come back over here" Hill threw the bottle at officers, according to the report. 

But it wasn't until Hill pulled out a knife and started coming toward the officers that Crowell drew his gun and asked Hill to put down the knife. He told investigators that he was certain Hill was going to toss the knife, too, The Bay Citizen reports.

Charles Hill
  • Charles Hill
Hill was about 15 feet away from the officers when Crowell fired three rounds, two of which hit Hill and killed him, according to the report. "You know it's me or him at this point," Crowell told investigators. "Yeah I feared for my life."

After the shooting, police found more knives on Hill, including four in his backpack.

Now for the question many people have been wondering: Why didn't Crowell use his Taser?

"My training tells me to present, you know, and equal or greater force, and that's why I'm instructed to fire -- because I didn't feel any other weapon or anything else on my belt is going to meet what he's presenting," Crowell told investigators.

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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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