Witnesses defend Muni agent after fight

November 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
San Francisco police are sorting through two very different stories. Some witnesses claim a Muni agent had a meltdown, punching a teenage girl repeatedly in the face. Then there are those who know this man as a church deacon and believe he must have been provoked into defending himself.

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On Friday night, the station agent's wife was trying to post bail to get her husband out of jail. Witnesses may not agree on if he is to blame, but they are all wondering why the two girls who got into it with him weren't also arrested.

Police have accused 59-year-old Ken Valentine of felony assault and misdemeanor battery in the beating of a 17-year-old girl.

Valentine's pastor, Rev. Amos Brown, doesn't buy it. He said "I think it was self defense."

Rev. Brown visited Valentine in jail. He's been his pastor for 30 years and says Valentine is a deacon at Third Baptist Church. Brown said Valentine was defending himself against a 17-year-old girl and her older sister, who wanted the 17-year-old to pay Muni's youth fare. Valentine said she didn't have ID proving her age.

"One of them threw a can and hit him in the side of his head. It was a significant blow," said Rev. Brown.

Damien Slaughter was at the Embarcadero station and saw the girls throwing soda cans at the station agent and yelling at him.

"He was definitely not the aggressor, they were attacking him, and he was just trying to get them out of his cube," said Slaughter.

But once Slaughter thought police had been called, he walked away. Another witness said that's when the situation changed and Valentine ran out of the booth and grabbed the 17-year-old.

He said "He stood above her and just continued to punch her, and I mean, punch her as though he was punching a man. I mean, it was scary. This guy was in a rage."

"That doesn't sound like him at all," said Valentine's wife, Joyce.

Joyce said her husband has been attacked before while working at Muni. He was hit in the head with an iron rod and now has a shunt in his head. If he was aggressively defending himself, she says this could explain why.

"If you've been attacked before, the next time around you're conscious it's a natural reaction to protect yourself," said Joyce.

Valentine's loved ones and the witnesses all agree the girls should have been arrested. Police said the case isn't closed yet; they are still sorting through all of the different stories.

BART and Muni share the Embarcadero station so police have asked BART if there is any surveillance video of the confrontation. They have asked BART to turn it over so they can watch the incident for themselves.

ABC7 spoke with BART officials Friday night and they said they don't think their cameras caught the incident, but they are going to double check.

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