UPDATE (Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, 10:30 a.m.): BART General Manager Bob Powers has released a statement regarding the incident. Scroll to the bottom of this report to read it.
A man cited for eating a breakfast sandwich while on a BART platform has sparked controversy after video of the incident posted on social media has gone viral.
The incident was reported around 8 a.m. Monday at the Pleasant Hill BART station, officials said.
A Facebook profile for Bill Gluckman posted video of the verbal altercation on Friday. The video has garnered hundreds of comments and over a thousand shares, and has since been reposted on other social media platforms.
The man who was cited said he felt singled out.
"You singled me out of all these people," he said.
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"You're eating," the officer responded.
"It's against the law."
The video does not capture the start of the confrontation, so it's not clear how the situation escalated so quickly. In the video, the officer can be seen holding onto the man's backpack and repeatedly asking him for ID. The man refuses, and the officer says he will be detained for resisting arrest. The man says he is not resisting.
The man was briefly handcuffed. He was released after identifying himself and issued a citation.
BART issued the following statement about the incident:
"This occurred at around 8am on 11/4 and the man was issued a citation. He was not arrested. He was cited for eating which is a violation of state law. It isn’t just a policy or ordinance, it is penal code.
No matter how you feel about eating on BART, the officer saw someone eating and asked him to stop, when he didn't, he was given a citation.
The individual was not cooperative and was refusing to provide his name which is needed for a citation and is why the engagement lasted as long as it did.
We have sent the video to the Independent Police Auditor who has confirmed he is reviewing."
Several BART riders said that dealing with drugs or violence should be a higher priority than someone eating a sandwich. But riders also said that they have heard the announcements about not eating food on the trains.
"We can be doing better things, like preventing people from defecating or whatever on BART," said Nika Sanchez of Pleasant Hill.
NBC Bay Area is attempting to get in contact with the man who was cited. Updates to come.
BART General Manager Bob Powers released 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."