BART police say they arrested wrong man

S.F. Examiner file photoBART Police are conducting an internal affairs investigation into the arrest of Albert James Burleson

S.F. Examiner file photoBART Police are conducting an internal affairs investigation into the arrest of Albert James Burleson

Last month, BART police investigating an incident of battery in the Powell St. Station tackled and arrested a man who did not fit the victim's description of the suspect. Police records reviewed by The S.F. Examiner confirm that BART police mistook the identity of the suspect and arrested the wrong man.

At about 6:55 p.m. on Aug. 17, a female BART patron reported to BART police that she had been grabbed and hit by a male panhandler. She described her attacker as a black male dressed in black clothing.

However, BART police arrested a black male wearing a light gray jacket and blue jeans. BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said that the man was taken into custody because he tried to walk away when approached by BART officers.

In a daily police bulletin reviewed by The S.F. Examiner, BART police describe the Aug. 17 incident and admit that the man they arrested was not the man suspected of battering a female BART passenger. “We received reports of a battery,” the report stated. “The suspect arrested was not the same as the 242 suspect.”

242 refers to the California Penal Code section of the same name, which defines the crime of battery.

The man arrested by BART police was booked into San Francisco County jail on a charge of resisting arrest. His attorney, Rachel Lederman, asked that the man's name not be released because he is fearful of retaliation by police.

“It seems to me that this was clearly a wrongful detention because he didn't even match the description,” Lederman said.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian reports that BART has since launched an internal affairs investigation into the arrest. BART Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Jennings told the Bay Guardian that the San Francisco District Attorney's Office had opted not to prosecute the resisting arrest charge against the arrestee.BARTBART policeBay Area NewsCrimeCrime & Courts

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