But in the wake of Mr. Hill’s death, the BART police department is once again facing disapproval, similar to what it endured after Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant III in the back at the Fruitvale station in Oakland in 2009. That case touched off riots and looting last year after Mr. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Mr. Mehserle was released from jail last month after serving 11 months of a two-year sentence.
BART has not released the names of the two officers who confronted Mr. Hill. But one of the officers was not carrying a Taser, officials said. Neither officer (one is a six-year veteran, the other has been on the force for 18 months) had received crisis-intervention training.
Asked if the officers were adequately prepared for the confrontation, Chief Rainey said, “Absolutely.” But critics said Mr. Hill’s death was a direct result of the agency’s slowness in making changes after the 2009 shooting.
“There’s been a two-year struggle to reform BART,” said Anne Weills, an Oakland lawyer who represents victims of police brutality. “They’ve made no effort to open themselves up to the public, to hire and screen people or to train people to adequately deal with these situations.”
BART officers have shot and killed six people since the agency was founded in 1972; three of the shootings occurred during the past three years. The police force for Atlanta’s transit system, which employs 321 officers, has had two in the last three years; the New York Police Department’s transit bureau, with 2,400 officers, has not had a fatal officer-involved shooting in at least 10 years.
- From “In San Francisco, Latest BART Shooting Prompts New Discussion of Reforms,” by Zusha Elinson and Shoshana Walter