BART GM apologizes to man handcuffed after eating sandwich; more protests expected

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART has apologized to the man who was arrested for eating a breakfast sandwich on the platform last week.

Eating and drinking are not allowed on trains or on the platform. Still, the man identified as Steve Foster says the BART officer involved could have handled it differently.

RELATED: BART riders hold lunchtime 'eat-in' protest after man detained for eating sandwich on platform

Just about everyone has seen the video taken last Monday at the BART Pleasant Hill station. Steve Foster of Concord was stopped by a BART officer, identified as D. McCormick, for eating on the platform. BART says it's not allowed because it wants to keep the system safe and clean.

"It would have been simpler if he would have come up to me and said hey, you can't eat on BART nor on the platform. I should have been informed because I didn't know I couldn't eat on the platform," expressed Foster.

A statement written by BART General Manager Bob Powers, points out that the officer did warn him.

ORIGINAL REPORT: BART police handcuff, cite man for eating sandwich on platform
EMBED More News Videos

"I was just up there eating my sandwich waiting for the train to come." Caught on camera, BART police handcuff and cite man for eating a sandwich on the platform of the Pleasant Hill BART station.



"When the officer walked by again and still saw him eating, he moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation," the statement reads.

Foster says that's not what happened.

"He never walked past me, I was at the end of the platform so it was impossible for him to walk past me. He just came straight to me from the escalator like I watched him come up the escalator and make a bee line straight to me," he added.

When Foster refused to show him is I.D., the officer grabbed his bag and would not let go. Foster admits he began cursing at the officer and uttered homophobic slurs.

"I pretty much said everything that I felt that day and I don't regret any of it," he told us.

Foster's girlfriend Nicole Hernandez was the person who took the cellphone video.

"When he was grabbing him, like four, I don't know if it was four or six officers who came running up about a sandwich, I was nervous. When they turned him around and grabbed him and put him in handcuffs, I was nervous," said Hernandez.

On Monday, during the time we were there, we saw many infractions like people taking their bicycles on the escalator, going past the fare gates without paying and yes drinking on the platform. None of them were stopped or cited.

BART's General Manager issued an apology Monday.

"I'm disappointed how the situation unfolded. I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video," wrote Powers.

Foster says he doesn't accept BART's apology and is considering taking legal action against the transit agency.



Here's BART General Manager Bob Powers' full statement about the incident:

"Moving 415,000 riders each day comes with complexities and there are laws in place to keep our system safe, welcoming, and clean.

I've seen the video of the incident involving a man eating on our platform and our police response. Eating in the paid area is banned and there are multiple signs inside every station saying as much. As a transportation system our concern with eating is related to the cleanliness of our stations and system. This was not the case in the incident at Pleasant Hill station on Monday.

The officer asked the rider not to eat while passing by on another call. It should have ended there, but it didn't. When the officer walked by again and still saw him eating, he moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation. The individual refused to provide identification, cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm through out the entire engagement.
The officer was doing his job but context is key. Enforcement of infractions such as eating and drinking inside our paid area should not be used to prevent us from delivering on our mission to provide safe, reliable, and clean transportation. We have to read each situation and allow people to get where they are going on time and safely.

I'm disappointed how the situation unfolded. I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video.

I've spoken to our interim Police Chief about my feelings related to this incident and our Independent Police Auditor is conducting an independent investigation. He will report his findings to our Citizen Review Board."


See more stories and videos related to BART here.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.