BART officer cleared in violent takedown of woman at Santa Rita

ABC7 News exclusively reported last week that a bartender, who also works as a model, was suing BART and Oakland police, charging that their officers used excessive force while she was being booked at Santa Rita Jail.

ABC7 News has learned that BART police brass has cleared the officer of those charges.

After the suit was filed, BART responded under oath to the accusation of excessive force during interrogatories or questions by Sheehan's attorney.

BART said the incident was investigated by a use of force review board and that the jailhouse take down was within BART's policies and procedures. BART's police chief signed off on it.

John Scott is Sheehan's attorney.

"If this is in their policy then I submit that Megan Sheehan's blood is on all of their hands." John Scott said.

Sheehan was arrested March 17 last year on the night of St. Patrick's Day. After a heavy night of drinking, she ended up at the Lake Merritt BART station platform.

Sheehan was arrested by police after she became drunk and belligerent. She says she's embarrassed and has no qualms about that arrest. It is what happened hours later that left the 28-year-old bartender and model in the hospital with facial injuries.

VIDEO: Woman files suit against East Bay police for excessive force used during takedown

Sheehan was being booked at Santa Rita Jail. Video shows Sheehan at the counter in the upper right hand corner of the security video and the BART officer standing with her. Then suddenly some kind of altercation starts and she's thrown to the ground. The jail's security camera shows it happened quickly. An Oakland cop grabs her right hand while the BART officer takes her left hand and they throw her down face first.

Sheehan was lying unconscious in a pool of blood. Nurses were called. She was treated and taken to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.

"I don't believe that they should have broken four bones in the my face and knocked out some of my teeth," Sheehan said.

Later that night, a supervising Sgt. comes to Sheehan's ward. He tells her he's conducting an excessive force investigation. Video from his body camera captured the interview.

Officer: Do you know what happened?
Sheehan: No.
Officer: You don't remember?
Sheehan: No.
Officer: We don't want to hurt anybody. We just want your cooperation, OK.

Sheehan believes the interview was inappropriate.

"I don't know what I'm saying. I don't know why they're asking me," she said. "Who questions someone that's intoxicated and so sedated?"

After a short while, the sergeant ends the interview.

A police report from that incident it says Sheehan was "violently punching" and that the officer used an arm-bar takedown and "guided her to the ground." BART declined comment because the lawsuit is pending.
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