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BART Police Shooting Witness Questions Use Of Lethal Force

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San Francisco BART Civic Center station, shooting

Civic Center BART station where a man was shot and killed by a BART Police officer.

ChrisFilippi 20100909_KCBS_0379r Chris Filippi
Chris is a proud graduate of Castro Valley High School and San Jose...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — At least one witness to the fatal shooting of a man by BART police Sunday night at the Civic Center Station in San Francisco is questioning why the officers had to use lethal force.

The San Francisco medical examiner’s office identified the man killed as 45-year-old Charles Hill.  Hill was allegedly wielding a knife and a broken alcohol bottle as weapons before an police shot him at about 9:45 p.m. on the train platform, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.

Hill, who has no fixed address, was shot in the front torso area and later taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:45 p.m., Johnson said.

Two BART police officers had responded to the station after receiving reports of a white man wearing a tie-dye shirt and green military fatigue pants who was carrying an open container of alcohol. He was described as drunk and “wobbly” to BART dispatch.

A witness who saw the shooting from a distance of 30 to 40 feet and said the man who was shot did not appear to be running towards officers.

Myleen Hollero told the Bay Citizen that the man who appeared to be a “drunk hippie” was not running or lunging at police.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

BART and San Francisco police have identified between 35 and 40 witnesses to a confrontation and shooting, Johnson said Thursday.

Johnson said investigators still have about 15 more witnesses left to interview. San Francisco police are conducting most of the interviews, he said.

BART and San Francisco Police said they were working in conjunction on the investigation.  Johnson said that once the agencies complete their parallel investigations, BART will release a video of the incident unless the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, which is conducting its own probe, objects.

“We want to be transparent and there’s no reason for us to hold onto the video because the public has every right to see it,” Johnson said.

BART Deputy Police Chief Daniel Hartwig said the two officers who arrived at the Civic Center station and confronted the man found him aggressive and combative and not complying with orders.

One of the officers suffered minor cuts in the confrontation, Hartwig said.

Hartwig refused to talk about specific details of what happened.

“I can’t make judgment on the statement of what actually occurred or what didn’t occur. What we rely upon are those 35 to 40 witnesses that we are interviewing,” Hartwig said.

Hartwig claimed one of the two officers had a Taser, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should have been used.

“The Taser is never used in a life threatening, imminent danger situation,” said Hartwig.

Hollero claimed she has tried unsuccessfully to relay her eyewitness account to authorities. According to the Bay Citizen, when she attempted to contact SFPD she was told it sounded like a situation for BART. Upon calling BART with her story, she was only able to get through to a recording.

Johnson said the Hollero’s account “is not the only perspective” on the shooting. He said he believes that once all the witnesses are interviewed, there will be “a more complete and accurate picture” of what happened.

The city district attorney is also investigating the shooting.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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