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BART Police Shooting Witness Questions Use Of Lethal Force

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.)

More from Chris Filippi
  • john

    Police are out of control.

    Shoot first, ask questions later.

    They should be indicted for murder

    • Dave H

      John, you are amazing ….. can you tell me the next lotto numbers ? Your comment is reflective of a person who has no interest in the TRUE FACTS but smiple what to spew your personal hatred and bias. There is simple NO facts presented that indicates the shooting was not anything but reasonable. I would be more impressed if Ms Hollero had some expertise in Force Science or training in use of force. But what I see here is a person who wants her 15 min of fame and not much more.

      • Dave H

        TryRationalThinking…. are you kidding… lets see if I understand you… you would be able to have common sense on what happen based on a newpaper or television report. Common sense would have been for the deceased to have dropped what he was holding and to obey the directions of the officers. Based on your statement all law enforcement shooting should be be considered unreasonable first….. Soulnds like the cops are guilty until proven innocent… WOW i thought it was the other way around. You should educate yourself on the training, on going training and process that an officers must go through when it comes to use of force and the legal basis for which they have to comport themself.

      • TryRationalThinking

        @ Dave H: There is NOTHING to indicate is was a REASONABLE use of lethal force EITHER.

        One need not have ‘expertise’ in order to have common sense…..

    • john sux

      I’m glad they shoot the bad guys first. Saves me the trouble of doing it myself.

  • Miss Dee

    In a situation like this, why do they always shoot to kill?? A knee cap would have been just as effective. It disables the offender long enough for two officers to subdue him. And he lives to drink another day!

    • miss dee, REALLY?

      How about shooting the knife out of his hand? How about shooting the knife while spinning the gun to make the bullet curve? They do it on TV. Why can’t they do it in real life? Or maybe they could use their light sabres or their magic green rings or their Norse hammers. Shooting the “perp” in the knees is what they do in the movies.
      Maybe if you ACTUALLY knew what you were talking about instead of relying on TV and movies to get your information, you’d wouldn’t post such idiotic comments.
      Stay in your mommy’s home, little girl, and leave the big bad world to the adults.

    • adam

      Miss Dee…sorry to hear about your drinking buddy. LOL

  • mechanic

    All drunk hippies should be dealt with in a similar fashion. Nothing worse in our already declining culture than drunk hippies! If we’d had this type of action in the 60’s, we’d probably be living in a much better world today.

    • James Greybush

      you forgot about illegal immigrants. thats whats wrong with our country today.

  • Been there seen that

    To those taking the side of the shooting victim. Go down to that station yourself and see if you can help straighten out “the lot of them”. There are some real pieces of work in that area. Drug use, sales, theft, prostitution and assault are all common place in that area. They hate anything to do with order or authority. See how you’d fare over there. Hell, just go visit the area in the evening or early morning hours. Wear your jewelry and take your wallet.

  • jasonl

    hey idot criminals. when confronted by police. drop a weapon, broken bottle cell phone or anything else in your hand. how hard is that

  • haratley

    sounds like a good (justified) shooting, just like that oscar grant case.
    of course when the rioting starts they’ll find some way to persecute and prosecute the cops who were simply doing their jobs.

    • mechanic

      The dead guy was not black or brown skinned; so there will be no riots.

  • JaneQPublic

    It’s pretty obvious that most of the commentary here is of the “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset. So this may NOT be a useful forum for anyone seeking to cast light on the MANY unanswered questions about this killing.

    IF SFPD is truly interested in doing an INDEPENDENT investigation – and not just window dressing for BART – there needs to be something more than a recording for witnesses to contact. WAY too few ALLEGED ‘facts’ published (so far) to justify use of lethal force. I can understand being tight-lipped until all witnesses have been interviewed, but this does not sound like witnesses are even being given an effective way to speak to investigators. Perhaps a call to the San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints may be a better contact: they are open Mon – Fri 8am to 5pm Phone (415) 241-7711. Cases outside OCC’s jurisdiction are forwarded to proper authorities.

  • Wake up

    Cops are trained to stop the threat. A kneecap shot does nothing if the guy is on a stimulant or other drug and still manages to stab you. How many stabs from a knife are you willing to take? They stop the threat and shoot as they are trained. In a stressful situation they respond as they train. They shoot as they train. A man with a knife is a deadly force situation. A taser is not a clear option here as they often miss the target and leave the officer in a vulnerable position. Tasers also can be ineffective against people under the influence.

    Give the cops a break and educate yourself on police force options before you make up your mind. This is nothing like Oscar Grant, who by they way wasn’t murdered. He was shot by an officer who was poorly trained and in a stressful responded on his training and used the wrong tool. No intent to kill. Don’t forget that cops are people who go to work and at the end of the day go home to family. The last thing they want to do is kill someone while at work.

  • BART Warns Riders About Planned Protest Of Officer Shooting « CBS San Francisco

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