July 4 news conference on officer involved shooting at Civic Center Station


July 4 news conference on officer involved shooting at Civic Center Station

Transcript of news conference:

 

LINTON JOHNSON:

I'm BART Chief Communications Officer, Linton Johnson, and this and this is uh... BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey and he's here to give us an update on yesterday's officer involved police shooting.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY:

Good morning. As you are aware last night at 9:46 p.m. we had an officer involved shooting at our Civic Center/ Union Plaza station the original call for service came in at 9:34 p.m. which was reported to our dispatch center there was a white male subject in a tie dye t-shirt, green military fatigue pants walking around that platform with an open bottle of alcohol. Officers were dispatched to that location, but before they arrived, the call was updated at 9:34 that the suspect was also wobbly and appeared to be drunk on the platform. Two of our officers responded and arrived on scene at 9:45 p.m. via the San Francisco to Milbrae bound train and contacted the suspect. The suspect was... in fact had a bottle which was used as weapon he was also armed with a knife. A confrontation occurred as a result of the suspect's aggressive actions and fearing for their safeties one of the officers discharged his duty weapon striking the suspect. Paramedics were summoned and responded to the scene CPR was performed on the suspect before he was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where medical personal pronounced him dead about an hour later. One of our officers received a minor cut to his arm from the confrontation, but both officers are otherwise alright and now with their families. They will be on routine administrative leave until they are cleared to return to duty by our departmental psychologist. I have been in touch with our independent auditor, Mark Smith, kept him abreast of the events surrounding this incident, this is uh.. still an ongoing investigation, and we encourage any potential witnesses to contact our department criminal investigation section at 510 464-7040.

 

REPORTER:

Were any of the officers... either of those officers armed with TASERS?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY:

Yes. One had a Taser.

 

REPORTER:

Why did they choose not to use the Taser?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY:

At this point, I can't answer that question,  but the Taser is a tool, and....when you’re confronted with deadly force, again it's a tool that the officer can choose to use or uh... cannot chose to-- to use. You usually confront deadly force, and a knife being deadly force with other type of deadly force.

 

REPORTER

Is it confirmed that the suspect was waving the knife or was he waving the bottle or...?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I can't confirm that at this point, the subject was armed with a knife and actually used the bottle as a weapon as well.

 

REPORTER:

How many years on duty do the officers have and are they being cooperative at this point?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Yes, the officers are being cooperative.

 

REPORTER:

And how many-- what's their experience (level)?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

One office has approximately six years of experience the other officer has 18 months of experience.

 

REPORTER:

Did a physical altercation happen between the officers and the suspect before the shooting occurred?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

A... confrontation occurred between the suspects and the officers-- I don't want to go into a lot of detail at this point because we're still waiting for witnesses to come forward and our criminal investigations division is conducting an active investigation.

 

REPORTER:

Was the officer who was-- was injured the one who fired his weapon as well?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY:

I'm... not going to comment on that at this point.

 

REPORTER:

What does surveillance video show?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

We do have surveillance ... video but, again, this is an active investigation, we want to make sure that all the witnesses come forward, ... we want their independent recollection and what they said they saw we don't want them reporting what they hear or possibly see in the media.

 

REPORTER:

Chief were there any other passengers on the platform nearby (inaudible)?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Yes.

REPORTER:

How many?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

There was... it was... a number of people on the platform.

 

REPORTER:

And uh... can you confirm that there were three shots fired, we-- we're hearing reports that-- were three shots reported?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No I can't confirm that.

 

REPORTER:

And the officer who's six years versus the one who was 18 months, can you give us a sense of which was the one who was injured?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No, not at this point, no.

 

REPORTER:

Which one of them opened fire?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I'm not going to say that at this point either.

 

REPORTER:

Where was the man shot?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

In the front torso area, I believe.

 

REPORTER:

From what range (inaudible)?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I don't know.

 

REPORTER:

Was the platform crowded at that time, were there very many people there at that time of night or was it pretty sparse?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

The-- there were a number of people on the platform.

 

REPORTER:

Can you give us an idea of what words were exchanged between the officer and sus-- the officers and the suspect before the shots were fired?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY:

No. I can't, again, this is an active ongoing investigation, again there were a number of on the platform that need to be interviewed as witnesses and we don't want to uh... taint or influence their uh... recollection by them seeing or hearing anything in the media.

 

 

REPORTER:

Were you able to talk to very many of them... you know after the shooting? Did some people stick around?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Some people definitely stuck around and some people also still need to be contacted.

 

REPORTER:

Can you tell a little bit about how the SFPD is helping out I understand they're doing a criminal investigation, but maybe their CSI team is helping you all with gathering and evaluating evidence?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

San Francisco PD is the lead investigative group on this, their CSI team did respond and collect evidence our criminal investigations unit is also conducting an investigation and we also will be conducting and administrative investigation into this incident.

 

REPORTER:

Was deadly force the only option for this officer?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Without having all the facts, it's impossible for me to say that as a police officer, again, somebody armed with a knife, deadly force is definitely in the realm of options.

 

REPORTER:

Can you talk about policy changes that BART has implemented between the Oscar Grant shooting and now that you feel may have, if they did, made a difference on this platform?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

We've had a number of policy changes, and a number of organizational changes as well. Obviously on our use of force policies we make sure that we respond supervisors to the scene immediately we have a centralized watch commanders position located in our dispatch center that can immediately take command and control over these types of incidents. Because BART is a linear system, we have camera systems, CCTV cameras that view a lot of our properties, not the entirety of our properties, but they can, a lot of times see what's going on and help coordinate a response. Our officers receive an additional 40 hours of training every year where most California police officers are only mandated to receive 24 hours of training every 2 years our officers receive 40 hours of training a year. Plus our field training officers are trained in what we call the CIT method, Crisis Intervention Training, where in situations where you potentially have a violent subject that's possibly mentally ill, our officers are trained on how to talk and deescalate these type of situations.

 

REPORTER:

Having said that, from what you know so far about what happened are you satisfied that the officers followed the new training protocols and acted appropriately?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

From what I know at this point, yes, I'm comfortable with what has occurred.

 

REPORTER:

The shooting happened quickly from what do police officers know that maybe the general public doesn't know about close quarters, ya know, altercations, that type of thing? I mean this thing sounds like it (inaudible) turned into trouble real quick.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

These types of situations-- there's no such thing as a routine situation. As we've informed you guys the original call for service was a subject on a platform with an open container of alcohol the call was updated that the subject possibly was drunk, wobbly, on the platform they're very fluid and you can't take them as routine because they can unfold quickly, very, very quickly and rapidly.

 

REPORTER:

What more can you tell us about the victim?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

The only thing at this point that I know about the victim that he's a white male, possibly the age range between 30 and 50 years of age, and that's a guestemate.

 

REPORTER:

Do you have any sense if he'd been a presence at that station before or caused trouble at that station before was known throughout the system?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I do not have any information about that.

 

REPORTER:

So people said that he was drunk and wobbly, was that within itself something that they were concerned about, I mean was he doing anything else that would have caused the police to come there, like what was their intent, to kick him off the platform or  figure out if he could walk or...

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Well the original, again the original call the we received is that he had an open container of alcohol in our paid area which is against the law and the updated call for service was that he was wobbly and possibly drunk on the platform obviously this is a safety for this individual especially if he stumbles and falls upon the track and a train is coming. So, you have multiple issue going, you have a violation of the law and possible welfare-- to check this individual's welfare.

 

REPORTER:

Have investigators identified the man and are you in touch with his family?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No, we have not identified the man yet.

 

REPORTER:

Did he have any identification on him?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I don't know.

 

REPORTER:

Which platform did it happen on? Platform 1, platform 2, do you know which side?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Do you know what? I don't....(LINTON WHISPERS TO KENTON) okay, platform 1.

 

 

REPORTER:

And did the surveillance cameras capture any of the confrontation-- I know you can't say what they show, but did any of it get caught on tape?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Part of the confrontation is caught on tape.

 

REPORTER:

Any cell phone videos out there that you guys are looking at as far as you know?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Don't know. Don't know, again multiple individuals were on the platform and we are definitely those individuals who possibly witnessed this incident to come forward or contact our criminal investigations division at 510 764-7040.

 

REPORTER:

Chief you indicated that the officers arrived on the SF Milbrae train, would it be typical at that station to have a couple of officers during the evening during a fairly warm summer night or where there any other officers nearby or... I'm just trying to get a sense of how it's staffed on a weekend.

 

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

These would have been the two closest officers that were available to respond would have responded. BART is a large system, we have 44 stations and we generally only staff 22 to 23 officers per our primary shifts.

 

REPORTER:

How many officer involved shootings have you had since Johannes Mehserle and Oscar Grant?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Two.

 

REPORTER:

I understand that one of your key witnesses was a train operator, is that employee also on leave or getting any kind of counseling or anything like that?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I can't speak to that. I don't know if that person is on any type of administrative leave.

 

REPORTER:

Is this the first shooting that's happened in San Francisco?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Since I've been here. And I've only been here uh... this is my 13th month and second officer involved shooting.

 

REPORTER:

Chief, could you speak to in light of the Oscar Grand incident and now this, are you concerned about how this will play in the public and the ridership, perhaps the perception that police officers are too aggressive in these types of situations? Are you concerned about any perceptions out there about the department?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Let me say this, anybody that thinks... officers wake up in the morning and want to be in these types of situations is just dead wrong. Look at this room, and your entire life is going to be turned upside down, with this type of scrutiny where everybody is going to be second guessing what you did or what you did not do, so as far as people thinking that the officers are being over aggressive again this individual was armed with a knife, also used a bottle as a weapon, the incident that occurred in July of last year, that individual was also armed with a knife and attacked not only BART officers, but Oakland Police Officers.

 

 

REPORTER:

Chief, did he have the knife out at the time, or did he just have it on him?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

He had the knife out.

 

REPORTER:

Did he charge or run toward the officers?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Again, I'm not going to go into any details.

 

REPORTER:

Was the bottle broken in order to make it a weapon or was he holding the neck of it?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I'm not going to go into the exact details, because this is an active, ongoing investigation.

 

REPORTER:

Did they fear that he might hurt somebody else, I know the officers were there and one of them was struck... were there other people on the platform that were threatened at the time, I mean, I imagine that was your biggest fear that he would lash out at other people.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Obviously that-- there are multiple people on the platform and that could have been a fear, but I'm not going to speculate exactly what was in the officers' mind.

 

REPORTER:

Did one of the riders alert BART personnel that hey there's someone down here who's drunk and wobbly and that was the process by which your officers were called in?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Our dispatchers actually did receive the call for service that this individual was on the platform with an open bottle of alcohol in violation of the law and the call was updated by whoever called in at this point I don't know who that individual was saying that the subject was also wobbly as he wondered around the platform.

 

REPORTER:

So it would be safe to say that you got his call from someone who was down on the platform and said, "hey you guys need to come check this guy out a rider who is down on the platform and firsthand saw this person or...

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

That's possible, but I don't know exactly who called in and made the report.

 

How does it get to your dispatch, is it like a house phone, or is it 911 or does that work?

 

REPORTER:

We can receive calls at our dispatch line at 510 464-7000,  calls can come in internally through our operations communications center which actually runs the trains, and we can also receive 911 calls that are switched over. Most 911 calls will go to the California Highway Patrol and once they are aware that this happened on a BART station they can transfer it over to our dispatch center.

 

REPORTER:

Can you tell us if this was a 911 call that a passenger may have made?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

What I was just told is that the original call came from the OCC center, our operations communications center.

 

 

REPORTER:

So is that from a staff person or is that from someone outside?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I don't know if the report came to them, and then came to us or was something they observed because they also have the ability to observe our CCTV camera system, I don't know, but the original call for service that I was able to listen to was a report that I read off at the beginning of my statement.

 

REPORTER:

When will BART release the information of the person the suspect in this case, his name, when will you have that information for us?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

The Medical Examiner in San Francisco, he will release that information.

 

REPORTER:

Will you guys be releasing any of the 911 tapes or any of the tapes at all at some point.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I would imagine, possibly through... if the need arises if we have to release that information we would, but will we release that information as a matter of routine? No.

 

REPORTER:

What's the timeline for the investigation? After you talk to witnesses, what happens next. Is there an amount of time in which things happen?

 

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Well we want to conclude this investigation as quickly as possible because we want to make sure along with the questions that were asked, we want to make sure that the public knows that no BART Police officers are not overly aggressive. They're out there, there definitely out there doing their jobs trying to make the system safe so it's in our interest to conclude the investigation as quickly as possible and also in conjunction with San Francisco PD and the San Francisco DA's office.

 

REPORTER:

I imagine you want to be thorough as well especially with the scrutiny over the Oscar Grant shooting and the other officer involved shooting.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

And that's why San Francisco PD is involved as well and also the San Francisco DA's office is involved.

 

REPORTER:

What time did the paramedics arrive and when was the man pronounced dead?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

The exact time that the paramedics arrived on scene, I don't know, but the man was pronounced dead approximately one hour after the confrontation.

 

REPORTER:

Was there any damage to the station itself from bullets entering walls or columns or anything like that? Any repair work that's going to need to be done after this?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I don't know.

 

REPORTER:

Was the injured officer hospitalized and was anybody else hurt?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No, the injured officer was not hospitalized.

 

REPORTER

Was it just the two officers or were there other  supervisors or other people, different-- in a different part of the station at that time or was it just the two officers?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

It was just the two officers.

 

REPORTER:

How long were the officers on the platform before the shooting took place?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Approximately one minute.

 

REPORTER:

And a minor cut, I was hearing cuts and bruises, but I want to make sure that we're--

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

It's a minor cut.

 

REPORTER:

And how did they get the cut?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

As a result of the confrontation.

 

REPORTER:

Was it the bottle or the alleged knife?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

As a result of the confrontation.

 

 

REPORTER:

I understand that you say you can't get into a lot of detail, you can't tell us what prompted this confrontation? Can you just give us some idea, the guy went after the officers?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Again, I'm not going to go into any details because this is an active, ongoing investigation and we still have witnesses yet to interview and we are encouraging other witnesses who we possibly missed to come forward.

 

 

REPORTER:

So you're saying to us though that the officers got there and one minute after they got there they shot a guy so that tells me that they went in there shooting.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Then if that's your take on it I can't--

 

REPORTER

Well can you clear that up for us?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I thought I did. I really thought I did. The guy's armed with a knife, the guy used a bottle as a weapon, one of our officers is injured, and our officers used the force they felt was necessary in defense of their lives.

 

REPORTER

The injured officer, I think you said this before, is he the one that pulled the trigger or was it his partner?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No, I didn't say that. I didn't answer that question.

 

REPORTER

So, you're not going to say...

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No.

 

REPORTER

On the officer's injuries, earlier this morning your deputy chief said that it involved shards of glass in his arm, which would suggest that it was not a knife cut, but the bottle, so can you clarify that?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No, I can't.

 

REPORTER

So what we'll just leave that as it is.... shards of glass in his arm.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

 If that's what he reported.

 

 

REPORTER:

So within a minute chief the suspect had a knife and a bottle, used it against the officers in some kind of confrontation and in that same minute, defended himself and killed the suspect. That's what you're pretty much saying here?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Yes.

 

REPORTER:

Were there any civilians on the platform who reported being harassed or threatened or anything else by this guy?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No. I don't have any information to that effect.

 

 

REPORTER:

Chief, do you frequently get calls about intoxicated people on platforms?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Yes.

 

REPORTER:

And officers are sent to check out each one?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Absolutely. Obviously because of some of the questions being asked individuals, our patrons, commuters being harassed, but also as I stated earlier, it's a well being check, because if an individual falls into the trackway, it's going to be pretty disastrous for that individual, so we definitely want to those scenes as quickly as possible to prevent loss of life or injury.

 

REPORTER

Do you know if the suspect had been in the BART system, on a train or was he just in a station?

 

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

The only report that I have, the subject was on the platform.

 

REPORTER:

Do you know either of these police officers personally?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

What do you mean by personally?

 

REPORTER:

If you would have a sense of their personalities or could describe them in one way or another?

 

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Yeah, I know my personnel, they were just average ordinary guys.

 

REPORTER

If in general one of the passengers is intoxicated on a platform are they allowed to proceed and ride the trains or are they removed from the area? Generally what happens in that situation?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

When you say being intoxicated or if they're being under the influence in violation of the law. And what the law states is, an individual who cannot care for their own safety or the safety of others it gives us the ability to take them into custody for being drunk in public, so try to prevent anything bad from happening. So on a call like this we would want our personnel to contact that individual, do some type of evaluation or determination, can they proceed if they're trying to catch a train or do we need to take them into custody for their own well being, or the well being of others.

 

 

REPORTER

Is that sort of the goal in this situation to take him into custody?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

The goal would be to contact that individual to make a determination of exactly what's going on, we don't want to send our personnel into situations with any predetermined conclusion, because you don't know what you're going to have until you get there.

 

REPORTER

Were the officers trying to make an arrest when the confrontation occurred?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I can't say that they actually trying-- it happens very, very quickly-- the officers arrived at 9:45 and within one minute they discharged a weapon, had the discharge of a weapon.

 

REPORTER

Is there an autopsy being performed for toxicology, things like that?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Yes all those things will be done by the San Francisco Coroner’s office.

 

REPORTER

Chief, what did you see on the video?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I'm not going to say.

 

REPORTER:

What can the public expect next in terms of the information that (inaudible)

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Well we will definitely update what happened as we learned different things. Obviously you want to identify who this individual is-- condolences go out to whoever he is and his family obviously we want to make sure our personnel are okay and we want to get them back to work and we're going to coordinate with San Francisco PD, and the San Francisco DA's office in resolving this investigation.

 

REPORTER

So you still have no idea who the victim is?

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No.

 

REPORTER

Did he have ID or anything on him?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

You would have to contact the San Francisco Coroner’s office about that. They took control of the body.

 

REPORTER

Did the independent police auditor go to the scene?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

No, but me and Mark Smith who is the new police auditor have been in close contact and I've kept him updated as far as what has occurred what has been done and what steps we're going to be taking as we go forward.

 

REPORTER

Can you tell us the ages of the officers and how old the officer was who fired?

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

I don't have their ages.

 

BART POLICE CHIEF KENTON RAINEY

Just to be sure, one officer fired.

 

REPORTER

I'm not going to answer that question.

 

Updated: July 5, 2011 (added video)