San Francisco District Attorney Clears BART Officer in Charles Hill Shooting

George Gascon said the officer acted lawfully in self-defense.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon says a BART officer acted in lawful self-defense when he killed a man on a BART platform.

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has concluded that a BART police officer "acted lawfully in self-defense" when he fatally shot a knife-wielding homeless man at the Civic Center station in San Francisco last summer.

    Gascon said in a seven-page report to San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr that based on a thorough review of the law, witness statements and medical and physical evidence, "there appears no reasonable factual or legal basis upon which to charge" Officer James Crowell for the fatal shooting of 45-year-old Charles Hill at about 9:45 p.m. on July 3.
          
    The report was sent to Suhr last Wednesday and was made public Tuesday. Copies were also sent to BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey, Crowell and Lt. Hector Sainer in the San FranciscoPolice Department's homicide unit.

    Gascon said doctors who examined toxicology reports on Hill concluded that he was high on a combination of alcohol, methamphetamine and synthetic marijuana.

    According to Gascon, Dr. Nikolas Lemos, chief forensic toxicologist for the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office, said the combination of substances had a "synergistic" effect on Hill and the
    combination of depressants and hallucinogens compounded the effect of each other "exponentially."

    The report said Lemos believes Hill was "a chronic methamphetamine user" and he has rarely seen people with such a high level of methamphetamine in their body who were still alive.
       
    Dale Allen, an attorney who represents BART, said Gascon's report "supports our belief that Officer Crowell acted appropriately and in fear of his life" when he shot and killed Hill.

    But Oakland attorney John Burris, who recently filed a wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Hill's family, said, "We won't be deterred and will go forward with the lawsuit. This report has no effect on us."

    He said he's sued many police officers and agencies in his long legal career and in only one case have prosecutors filed charges against an officer who killed a suspect.

    Bay City News