USA

Window-smashing arrest - excessive force?

While a California transport officer waits to be tried for murder over the shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant, an amateur video of another alleged police brutality, just two metro stations away, is causing a furore online. Read more...

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While a California transport officer waits to be tried for murder over the shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant, an amateur video of another alleged police brutality, just two metro stations away, is causing a furore online. 

The footage shows 37-year-old Michael Gibson being restrained by a Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) officer at West Oakland station after he became aggressive towards other passengers on Saturday evening (Nov. 21). Both Gibson and the officer, who was not identified, were admitted to hospital after the incident.

“This is an example of how the officer in the [Oscar Grant] murder case should have responded”

Wayne Phillips is a sales manager from Concord, California (a city also served by BART public transport).

As a frequent BART rider I am glad the officer stepped in and addressed the belligerent passenger. Everything the officer did looked totally appropriate with the exception of slamming the suspect into the glass. That was unnecessary, but not so bad that it will stir up controversy.

The passenger's apparent drunk behaviour was also caught on tape which justifies the officer's prompt reaction. If anything, this is an example of how the officer in the murder case [Johannes Mehserle] should have responded. A belligerent passenger should be arrested but not lethally shot in the back."

The video had already been posted on YouTube by Sunday, forcing BART to launch a use-of-force investigation and release a statement. BART immediately pressed charges against Gibson, for resisting and battery of a police officer (both felonies). Gibson was cleared of the charges at a trial on Tuesday, after his lawyer argued that at no point do we see him strike or resist the officer. He was, however, charged for the less serious crimes of disturbing the peace, public intoxication and indecent exposure (all misdemeanours). His family says he suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

 

The video has brought up the highly controversial case of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, shot in the back by BART officer Johannes Mehserle in the early hours of New Year's Day this year. Mehserle is charged with murder, but remains free on bail, and resigned from BART. His trial will not take place until late 2010, Alameda County has ruled.

 

Posted on YouTube by "mmmikeey".