Demonstrators shut down Civic Center, Powell Street and 16th Street BART stations Monday night, snarling the evening commute for more than three hours as they protested last Sunday’s BART police shooting of Charles Hill.
A group of about 50 protesters chanted “No justice, no peace, disband the BART police,” and held open the doors of a Pittsburgh/Bay Point-bound train, delaying the train at Civic Center, before heading to the Powell station.
Protesters heckled Deputy BART Police Chief Daniel Hartwig as he tried to get them to close the train doors.
The station closures caused major delays for commuters coming into and out of San Francisco.
Hill was shot and killed by BART police officers July 3 at the Civic Center BART Station. BART police say that Hill, a homeless man, was drunk and wielding a knife when officers shot him after a minute-long confrontation.
At the protest, demonstrators chanted, “We are Charles Hill.” They handed out fliers featuring pictures of the three men killed by BART police during the past three years. One demonstrator tried to jump on top of a BART train, but a BART employee pulled him back to the platform. Protesters then chanted “Pig” at the employee.
Smith, who began working at the end of June, is currently conducting an independent investigation of the July 3 shooting.
“With any shooting, you want to understand the justification for the use of deadly force and whether proper procedures were followed,” said Smith, who investigated police shootings for the Chicago Police Department before being hired by BART.
Smith wouldn’t give any timeline, but said that once the investigation wraps up, he will make recommendations to the BART board about the police conduct. His findings will then be reviewed by a citizen’s police advisory board, also created in the wake of the Grant shooting.
The civilian board is holding its first meeting Tuesday morning.
The last fatal shooting by BART police officers was almost exactly a year ago.
On July 17, 2010, BART police shot Fred Collins outside the Fruitvale station — the same station where then-BART police officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009.
Officers said Collins was carrying two knives when he charged at them. BART said the police fired their guns after their attempts to use a Taser failed.
Few details about what happened in the minute that preceded Hill’s shooting have been released; both BART and the San Francisco Police Department are investigating the incident.
A witness to the shooting told The Bay Citizen Wednesday that Hill was moving slowly toward the two officers who had their guns drawn. Myleen Hollero said that Hill was “definitely” not “running or lunging” at the officers when three shots were fired, killing Hill.
Hollero said Hill was wearing a green tie-dye T-shirt and was balding with long white hair. “He just looked like a drunk hippie,” she said.