Lawyer Chases BART's Runaway Controversy Train - NBC Bay Area

Lawyer Chases BART's Runaway Controversy Train



    Lawyer Chases BART's Runaway Controversy Train
    Eyewitness with a high-tech angle

    Well-known East Bay civil rights lawyer John Burris says he has a meeting scheduled with a BART passenger who had his arrest captured on cell phone video over the weekend.  The jail house conversation is set for Monday afternoon.

    The man, 37-year-old Michael Joseph Gibson of San Leandro, was hurt by shattered glass after a BART police officer pulled him off a train and into a glass wall Saturday.

    The officer was also hurt.

    A video of the entire incident was made public thanks to YouTube.  It shows the officer, whose name hasn't been released, pulling Gibson off the train and across the platform toward a half concrete half glass wall.  When they arrive the glass shatters.

    Video Shows BART Officer Scuffle With Passenger

    [BAY] Video Shows BART Officer Scuffle With Passenger
    A BART rider captured video of the scuffle between an allegedly drunk passenger and an officer. Both men slammed into a plate glass window and ended up bloody.
    (Published Monday, Nov. 23, 2009)

    Why the glass shattered depends on perspective.  The video shows the suspect raising his right arm and swinging it toward the glass in the moment before the glass breaks.  It also shows the officer shoving the suspect toward the wall.   Gibson suffered cuts to his right palm, hand and arm.  The officer was also hit by falling glass and required stitches for a head wound.

    Burris said Gibson's family contacted him to see if he would represent Gibson in a possible lawsuit against BART in connection with the incident.  Burris said he's seen the video and thinks the officer overreacted and "made no effort to de-escalate the situation."

    BART police Cmdr. Daniel Hartwig said in a statement on Sunday that the arrest "is a use-of-force case that we will thoroughly investigate."

    People on the train called police because they said Gibson was causing a disturbance and they feared for their safety.  They said he appeared to be drunk and was yelling racial slurs and profanity at other passengers on a train. The video shows him yelling on the train, and the other passengers initially cheer when the officer pulls him off.

    Burris said he will meet with Gibson at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, where he is being held on suspicion of battery of a police officer with injury, obstruction and resisting an officer, disorderly conduct and  being intoxicated in public.

    Gibson's grandmother told reporter Cheryl Hurd that he is bi-polar.  She said she thinks he deserved to be arrested, but added that from her viewpoint police used excessive force.

    According to BART, the officer is on industrial leave.  The term "industrial" means he is not able to do his duties because of an injury.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.