BART GM ‘disappointed’ over viral video of sandwich eater’s citation

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Warning: Strong language/profanity used in video

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – BART’s general manager released a statement on Monday following the viral video that shows a man getting cited at a BART station in Pleasant Hill for eating a sandwich on a platform.

BART’s General Manager Bob Powers issued the following statement:

“Moving 415,000 riders each day comes with complexities and there are laws in place to keep our system safe, welcoming, and clean. 

I’ve seen the video of the incident involving a man eating on our platform and our police response.  Eating in the paid area is banned and there are multiple signs inside every station saying as much.  As a transportation system our concern with eating is related to the cleanliness of our stations and system. This was not the case in the incident at Pleasant Hill station on Monday. 

The officer asked the rider not to eat while passing by on another call.  It should have ended there, but it didn’t. When the officer walked by again and still saw him eating, he moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation. The individual refused to provide identification, cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm through out the entire engagement. 

The officer was doing his job but context is key. Enforcement of infractions such as eating and drinking inside our paid area should not be used to prevent us from delivering on our mission to provide safe, reliable, and clean transportation. We have to read each situation and allow people to get where they are going on time and safely. 

I’m disappointed how the situation unfolded.  I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video.

I’ve spoken to our interim Police Chief about my feelings related to this incident and our Independent Police Auditor is conducting an independent investigation.  He will report his findings to our Citizen Review Board.” 

The man cited by BART, Steven Foster, isn’t too pleased with the apology.

“I am not feeling that apology at all. They kind of flipped the story,” Foster said.

Both the recipient of the citation and BART Director Debora Allen take issue with the general manager’s apology, but for different reasons.

“I don’t think anyone is owed an apology,” Allen said.

Foster wishes the officer would be reprimanded.

“What do I want? I want him to be disciplined. I feel like if you don’t know how to approach people in that field of work, then maybe you shouldn’t be in that position,” Foster said.

Allen said the officer was doing his job.

“We have a code of conduct on BART and every rider on the system passes by the signs that have the no eating, no smoking, no drinking, no loitering and on down the list,” Allen said. “Most people will have respect for that officer and put it away, throw it away. They will comply. Unfortunately in this case, that wasn’t the case.”

The incident happened Monday around 8 a.m. and officials say the man was in violation of California state law.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Allen said she supports the officer’s actions.

Foster said he had no regrets and would do the same thing over again.

“Hell yeah! If I am hungry I am going to eat. I don’t care where I am at. If I am hungry I am going to eat,” Foster said.

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