BART took criticism after a video began circulating of a confrontation between officers and a passenger eating a breakfast sandwich at the Pleasant Hill BART station. (Courtesy photo)

Man cited for eating sandwich on BART hires civil rights attorney John Burris, intends to sue

A man detained by BART police for eating a sandwich is expected to announce his lawsuit against the agency on Thursday, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Steve Foster, who was detained by BART police for eating a sandwich at the Pleasant Hill BART Station has hired notable civil rights attorney John Burris.

Burris is expected to host a press conference at his offices in Oakland to announce the suit Thursday afternoon.

Foster intends to sue BART, claiming he was improperly detained without reasonable suspicion, missed work after the incident and experienced emotional distress and humiliation after a video depicting his encounter with officer D. McCormick went viral, sources with knowledge of the suit said.

That viral video has garnered international attention as people worldwide debate the merits of handcuffing a man for eating a sandwich at a train station, which is against BART policy. BART riders protested the detainment Saturday by eating food together at Embarcadero BART Station.

BART board director Janice Li attended the protest, earning her the ire of the BART Police Officers Association, who called on her to apologize. Meanwhile, BART General Manager Bob Powers publicly apologized for the original incident.

Burris alleges McCormick detained Foster without reasonable suspicion and grabbed Foster’s backpack when Foster tried to walk away. McCormick falsely stated Foster was resisting arrest, Burris’ alleges in the suit.

Burris has a storied legacy of tussling with BART. He represented the family of Oscar Grant, who was slain by a BART police officer in 2009. He also represented the family of Shaleem Tindle, another man shot and killed by a BART police officer in 2018.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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