A San Francisco jury Wednesday acquitted a man charged in connection with a confrontation with BART police this summer that was captured by both bystander and officer body cameras.
Jurors found Michael Smith, 22, not guilty of four counts of misdemeanor battery on a police officer and hung 9-3 on three other counts of battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, according to Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who represented Smith in the case.
Smith was arrested July 29 following a struggle with police at San Francisco’s Embarcadero BART station. The incident drew public outcry after bystander videos showed officers struggling with him and punching him in the head while he was pinned on his stomach.
BART police said they were responding to a 911 call reporting an attempted robbery and alleged that Smith physically resisted when officers tried to detain him, kicking one officer in the head and throat, biting another and spitting on a third.
Adachi argued that Smith was attempting to protect his pregnant girlfriend, who had been the subject of a tense confrontation on the train a short time earlier that may have led to the false attempted robbery allegation.
The case appears to have been the first in San Francisco to involve officer body camera footage, and Adachi said jurors told him that was crucial in their decision to reject the prosecution’s case.
“I’m so grateful for the jury and the jury system,” Adachi said. “We had jurors who carefully looked at the evidence and concluded that the BART police used excessive force when they shouldn’t have and that Michael acted in order to save his pregnant girlfriend.”