Witness video showed a Black California man handcuffed and detained by BART police for eating a sandwich on a train platform last Monday.
The man identified by local media as Steve Foster was at the Pleasant Hill train station in the Bay Area city of Walnut Creek when a BART police officer wearing the name badge D. McCormick cited him, according to video Foster’s girlfriend captured with her cellphone.
Foster, who also goes by Bill Gluckman on social media, posted the footage on Facebook Friday.
The video started with McCormick pulling Foster’s bookbag and explaining that state law gave him the right to detain the man for eating on the train platform.
“You are detained and you’re not free to go,” McCormick said.
Foster responded by asking the officer to let his bookbag go.
“Let my s–t go,” he said. “Bruh, you come up here and f–k with me. You single me out, out of all these people.”
“You’re eating,” McCormick said.
“Bruh, so what,” Foster responded.
“It’s against the law,” McCormick said.
“So what,” Foster responded.
The two went back and forward, each explaining their points in greater depth.
“It’s a violation of California law. I have the right to detain you,” McCormick said.
Foster later countered by explaining there were no signs posted informing patrons they could not eat on the platform. He also asked repeatedly throughout the course of his conversation with McCormick for the officer to let his bag go.
“Are you going to cooperate,” McCormick instead, asked.
“Can you cooperate and leave me the f–k alone,” Foster quipped.
To that the officer responded:
“You’re going to jail.”
“I’m not. Going to jail for eating a f—–g sandwich,” Foster asked.
“No, for resisting arrest,” McCormick responded.
Foster turned to the camera to say he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Still, the exchange played out on video for 15 minutes and 11 seconds (full video below), and the video showed three other officers arriving on the scene to assist.
One of them wore the name badge L. Vallejo.
“Stop resisting,” he was shown saying as he and McCormick handcuffed Foster.
“Four cops for a f—–g sandwich,” Foster shouted at one point.
The video also showed one of the officers accuse him of making a public disturbance and asking Foster for identification. In turn, Foster called the cop a b—h repeatedly.
“I don’t have to identify myself to you. I’ve done nothing wrong,” he said and asked for a supervisor.
“Stop talking,” his girlfriend advised.
The footage has since went viral, triggering more than 2.5 million views on Foster’s Facebook page alone.
The footage also attracted shares and comments from public figures including CNN political commentator Angela Rye and “Insecure” actress Amanda Seales, who commented on Rye’s Instagram post Sunday.
“Cited for Eating A Sandwich? Officer McCormick Must Be Fired!,” Rye captioned in the post.
She called for the public to email interim BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez to urge McCormick’s termination after his “INSANE” behavior.
“Officer McCormick: you present an unreasonable threat to our collective mobility and ability to thrive,” Rye said. “You need to find a new profession. I want the world to see you.”
“I swear he woke up and said, ‘which n—-r can if f–k with today’. Unfortunately this man was the one. We are living in a police state and it is OUT OF CONTROL.”
BART General Manager Bob Powers defended the officer in a statement Monday but also said the transportation agency has to have laws in place to move 415,000 riders each day while keeping its system “safe, welcoming, and clean.”
“I’ve seen the video of the incident involving a man eating on our platform and our police response,” Powers said. “Eating in the paid area is banned and there are multiple signs inside every station saying as much.”
Powers went on to say the situation didn’t have to escalate the way it did.
“The officer asked the rider not to eat while passing by on another call. It should have ended there, but it didn’t,” Powers said. “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.”
Powers said although the officer was doing his job, “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,” Powers said. “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,” Powers said. “I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video.”
He said the agency’s independent police auditor is conducting an independent investigation into the incident, and those findings will be reported to BART’s Citizen Review Board.
Foster told ABC 7 although he is “upset, mad, a little frustrated” and “angry” about what happened, he doesn’t plan to sue.
He does, however, want police to re-prioritize.
“I hope they start focusing on stuff that actually matters like people shooting up dope, hopping the BART, people getting stabbed,” Foster told ABC 7.