East Bay News

BART board member critical of protester accident

Friday, November 04, 2011

At least one member of the BART Board of Directors is making an admission: if BART police had known on Wednesday night what they know now, they might have handled the case of the driver hitting two pedestrians differently.

As protesters marched down Broadway at 11th Street Wednesday night, two cars tried to cross. When a protester jumps in front of them, the driver of the Mercedes stops. When that protester pounds on the hood, the driver peels out, injuring the man in front of the car, and also another woman behind the car.

BART officers handled the case for the Oakland Police Department. Multiple witnesses blamed the driver, who remains unidentified.

"I think he was angry and he didn't use restraint and he didn't care," Sunny Bostrom said.

The crowd wanted the driver arrested, but BART police let him go, a move that BART board director would be more critical of, had police seen the video.

"There probably would have been a different outcome; I think they would have been just a little more diligent in keeping that person on hand," BART Board Member Lynnette Sweet said.

But, as BART Board President Bob Franklin noted, as far as police knew at the time, this was a misdemeanor. Oakland police told them to let him go. And they had other factors to consider.

ABC7: "They didn't consider this as possibly an attack with a deadly weapon? A car?"

"I think they considered it, but this was a very volatile situation; to bring in more police cars, tow truck drivers, it would create a bigger disturbance," Franklin said.

Letting that driver go created enough of a crisis. The crowd surrounded a BART police car, which pulled out slowly, as bystanders accused BART police of having a double standard in dealing with suspects.

"If I ran someone over where would I go? They might put my black ass under the jail," one person at the scene said.

BART has now received a letter of complaint. Its independent police auditor, Mark Smith, will conduct the investigation.

"With every investigation, including this one, you seek witnesses, you gather the evidence, there's a lot of video evidence with regard to this case," Smith said.

BART says it will take as long as it needs to finish the investigation and to get it right. Oakland police say they are looking into the accident investigation, but will not release any other details.

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Tags:
oakland, protest, occupy wall street, OPD, BART, pedestrian struck, east bay news, wayne freedman
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