Newly unveilled surveillance video may shed light on viral incident between pitbull and cable car

In October, a man and his pit bull were asked by police to exit a California Cable Car in a video that went viral across San Francisco and beyond.

The incident, which was first reported by the San Francisco Examiner, later spread to People Magazine, Yahoo News and publications as far away as Virginia.

Now the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has released full surveillance video of the incident after a Freedom of Information Act request from the Examiner.

The video shows more context than the original viral video, taken by a passerby, which only shows the incident after police arrived.

Previously, Paul Rose, an SFMTA spokesperson, said the operator asked the man and his dog — Tad Tadesse and Rosie — to move inside the cable car, not off of it. “At no point was service denied,” Rose said.

Tadesse said otherwise — and asserted he and his pit bull Rosie had been denied Muni rides nearly twenty times. He said people, and Muni operators, are afraid of Rosie because of her breed.

Though Tadesse, the SFMTA, supporters and critics of the incident continue to have conflicting opinions about the veracity of service dogs, one question unanswered from the viral video — Were Tadesse and Rosie obeying SFMTA rules?

This seems to be at least partially addressed by the surveillance video.

At 12:49 p.m. in the video, a cable car operator and grip person can each be seen walking across their car, and by 12:50 p.m., the pair are rolling it forward to begin picking up passengers.

The grip is wearing a baseball cap and thick yellow gloves as he works the cable car’s lever, which grips onto the cables running underneath The City’s streets.

At 12:54 p.m., the cable car pulls up to its next stop, and Tadesse boards with Rosie.

Rosie the pit bull steps up to the cable car, and walks around in a quick circle in front of the doorway to the cable car’s interior.

The grip person immediately walks into the cable car interior and closes the door behind him.

This may verify SFMTA’s prior statement to the Examiner.

“The operator said that the animal approached the vehicle off-leash,” Rose told the Examiner the day after the incident.

“The operator did not feel safe and immediately went inside the cab and closed the door,” Rose said, and added, “Muni personnel and SFPD were asking the passenger to simply move seats further away from the grip controls, because the operator did not feel safe.”

Tadesse was not available for comment for this story.

View the SFMTA surveillance video above. Tadesse boards at the 45:00 minute mark.

After Rosie circled the cable car door, she almost immediately after ambled over to Tadesse and was brought to his lap, per SFMTA’s rules for dogs on board cable cars, which Tadesse keeps folded on his person at all times, he told the Examiner previously.

The policy and training document “Transporting Service Animals on Cable Cars,” writes that passengers with “service animals” who insist on sitting in the exterior seating section “are required to place their service animal(s)” in their lap.

In interviews with the Examiner, the Mayor’s Office on Disability and the SFMTA conflicted in their definition of a service dog, with the Mayor’s Office definition supporting the inclusion of emotional support animals. Tadesse claims Rosie is a service animal.

In the video, the cable car operator opened the door partway, and kept his left hand on the door as he spoke to Tadesse.

Moments after the conversation, the grip-person closed the door. He came back out to flip the cable car’s lever down completely — stopping the cable car for good.

At 1:15 p.m., about 20 minutes after the incident began, Gina Tomaselli, the woman whose viral video of Tadesse and Rosie the pit bull ignited national news coverage proclaiming Muni kicked Tadesse and Rosie off the cable car, walks into the frame with her cell phone held aloft.

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