BART officer filmed in struggle with passenger

A BART police officer was shown in an online video smashing the head of a belligerent passenger through a thick glass window Saturday at West Oakland station.

After the video was posted on YouTube, the transit agency held a press conference to announce that the passenger had been charged with felonies and a misdemeanor.

The arresting officer and the passenger were both injured during the incident, police said.

In the video, the passenger, identified as Michael Gibson, 37, of San Leandro, can be seen acting belligerently before being hauled off the train by a BART police officer.

Gibson was removed from the train at 5:40 p.m. after four people reported him to police for being drunk, trying to start fights with other passengers and making racial slurs, BART Police Patrol Commander Daniel Hartwig told reporters.

The officer can be seen in the video pushing Gibson across the platform from the train to a wall before shoving him strongly into a glass window, which shattered under the impact.

The glass was one-fourth of an inch thick and fell 30 feet onto newspaper boxes, according to Hartwig.

Gibson suffered minor injuries and was placed under arrest, according to Hartwig.

The police officer suffered concussion and lacerations that required stitches, and was placed on industrial leave, according to Hartwig.

Because the officer was injured, Gibson was charged with felony charges of battery on a police officer with injury, according to Hartwig.

Gibson was also charged with obstruction and resisting an officer, which is a felony, and disorderly conduct for being intoxicated in public, a misdemeanor, according to Hartwig.

Hartwig said the incident is being investigated and he acknowledged that the video played a role in BART’s decision to hold a press conference.

“We are keenly aware of what YouTube brings to the public,” Hartwig said.

The YouTube video is titled “BART cop breaks window w/drunk guy's face.”

The video was removed from YouTube later Sunday.

BART procedures for the use of police force have been under intense investigation following the New Year’s morning shooting of an unarmed passenger.

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was charged with murder after amateur videos posted on YouTube showed him fatally shooting unarmed 22-year old Oscar Grant in the back at another Oakland train station on Jan. 1. Mehserle’s trial was recently moved to Los Angeles.

BART police work on trains and stations throughout the BART network, which includes San Francisco.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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