PLEASANT HILL (KPIX) – An incident involving a BART rider eating a sandwich on the train platform that ended with the passenger handcuffed and cited was captured on video and is raising questions whether the BART police officer went too far.
BART official say a code of conduct sign is posted at every entrance outlining that there is no eating or drinking beyond the fare gates. But most people KPIX spoke with said BART police should exercise some common sense when it comes to enforcement.
The breakfast sandwich confrontation was leaving a bitter taste for a lot of passengers.
“I think that’s overkill,” said one passenger.
“They [BART police] need to be looking out for the real bad guys,” said another. “The people that are hurting people.”
Susan Rasmussen said, “I’ve been taking BART for the last ten years and there are much more important things to worry about.”
The incident happened on Monday, November 4, at around 8 a.m. on the platform at the Pleasant Hill BART station.
The officer apparently went to the platform to look for a woman who was reportedly drunk. When he couldn’t find the woman, he spotted a man eating a breakfast sandwich.
He asked the man to put the food away since it is against the law.
When the man refused, the officer held onto the man’s backpack to try to detain him.
In the video shot by another passenger, the man who was later identified as Steve Foster, protests that he is doing nothing wrong and asks the officer to let go of his backpack. The officer proceeded to say that he was resisting arrest and detained him for not cooperating.
In the clip he is seen being led away in handcuffs and was cited for eating the sandwich in the paid area of BART.
KPIX reached out to Foster to discuss the incident but haven’t heard back. However, fellow passengers had plenty to say about what happened.
“I feel there are better things to cite people for and there are more public nuisances besides eating,” one BART passenger said.
“It just seems like such a minor infraction,” said a second rider.
“They need to be flexible,” weighed in a third.
A rider named Aaron said, “If the officer was up there looking for a drunk person, they should have done that because eating a sandwich is not disruptive behavior.”
On Friday, KPIX 5 got a chance to speak with Foster about the incident. He still felt that he had done nothing wrong as far as eating in the station.
“I don’t regret any of it, but I could’ve expressed myself a little better,” Foster said. He also felt that the officer singled him out because he is African American.
“Most definitely. I deal with the every day,” said Foster.
As to whether or not he would eat on BART again, Foster answered with certainty.
“Hell yeah! If I’m hungry, I’m going to eat,” he said.
BART management and the transit system’s police department have faced heavy criticism over criminal activity on BART — including the fatal stabbing of Oakland teen Nia Wilson — and rampant drug use that at one point took over an area of the Civic Center Station in San Francisco.
BART officials declined to talk about the incident on camera. But in response to heft criticism the transit system has faced in the wake of the citation, BART says an independent police auditor is reviewing the video to see if the officer did anything wrong.
Now the breakfast sandwich is going to end up costing Foster more than a pricey 7-course meal. The citation comes with a $250 fine.
BART says they have sent the video to an independent police auditor for review.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. KPIX 5’s Andrea Nakano contributed to this report