BART directors frustrated by shooting investigation

July 14, 2011 1:28:36 PM PDT
Several BART directors expressed frustration today at the slow pace of the investigation into a July 3 incident at San Francisco's Civic Center station in which BART police shot and killed a knife-wielding man.

Director James Fang said one of the lessons from the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III at the hands of a BART police officer at the Fruitvale station on Jan. 1, 2009, is "to get in front" of the situation and quickly release information to the public.

Board president Bob Franklin said, "There's frustration in the amount of time it takes."

BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said the investigation into the death of 45-year-old Charles Hill is taking time because authorities are still interviewing witnesses to the shooting.

He said 40 witnesses have been identified and only about 20 have been interviewed so far.

Rainey has said that BART police shot Hill because he was armed with a broken bottle and at least two knives, and was using them as weapons.

Hill's death has sparked an outcry by some, including about 100 demonstrators who disrupted service at the Civic Center station and two other San Francisco stations during the evening commute on Monday.

Richard Kales, a real estate agent from San Mateo who works in San Francisco, was one of three speakers at today's meeting.

He said he has "the utmost empathy" for Hill but that he thinks Monday's protest was conducted by "reactionary groups and anarchists who are disrupting the public's right to get from point A to point B."

Kales said the investigation into Hill's death "should be conducted by the proper authorities, not by people who are running amok in the streets."

He said he thinks the protesters' tactics on Monday have "caused animosity" among most BART riders.

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