Caught on Cam: Taxi Driver Assaulted With Metal Padlock Outside Civic Center BART

Police are looking for a man who assaulted a taxi driver with a padlock outside San Francisco's Civic Center BART station.

The 34-year-old taxi driver, Ben Valis, pulled over to drop off a male passenger early Tuesday morning at a BART station at the intersection of Seventh and Market streets when the passenger struck him multiple times with a metal padlock, according to San Francisco police spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan.

"As we're driving I noticed he kept sitting behind me," Valis said. "He wouldn't slide over -- started getting heebie-jeebies, like, 'Oh no, here we go.'"

A video of the assault was recorded on the cab's dashboard camera and uploaded onto YouTube Wednesday by the Valis' friend, who notes the attacker mentioned that he lives within 10 blocks of the Fruitvale BART station.

The assault occurred at about 12:05 a.m. and police arrived at the scene shortly afterward. Before officers arrived, the suspect fled from the vehicle and headed into the BART station.

BART police were notified but the suspect was not located. Police are reviewing BART surveillance cameras for information on the suspect.

Valis was struck by the padlock at least two times, was treated by paramedics at the scene and released, Gatpandan said.

"I've got a bump on my head and there was some blood, but it could have been much worse," Valis said.

Police said the suspect was trying to steal electronics and other items in the front seat, but was unsuccessful. However, the suspect did take Valis' sense of security.

"Makes you reflect, like, 'Wow, I'm out there alone,'" he said. "Just me against the world in a way."

Gatpandan said the suspect, described as a light-skinned man in his early to mid 20s, was last seen wearing a light-colored T-shirt and blue jeans. He is described as standing 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 145 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with any information about the identity of the suspect is encouraged to contact police at 415-553-0123 or may text an anonymous tip to 847411 with "SFPD" followed by the message.

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