Contra Costa Centre, CA – The general manager of the San Francisco-area subway system apologized to a man arrested for having breakfast on the train platform despite the fact he hurled homophobic slurs at officers during his arrest (video below).
The incident occurred when a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer approached a passenger who was eating a breakfast sandwich on the Pleasant Hill train platform, KGO reported.
The officer asked the man, later identified as Steve Foster, for his name and told him what he was doing was illegal.
A cell phone video filmed by a witness showed the interaction between the BART officer and Foster.
The officer repeatedly told Foster he was detained and asked for his name, as he kept a firm grasp on the strap of the suspect’s Mickey Mouse backpack, the video showed.
Foster insisted that he ate breakfast on the train platform every morning and that the officer had no right to cite him for it.
The video showed that the police officer remained calm and cool through the entire exchange as Foster grew more agitated and eventually started hurling homophobic slurs at the officer.
“I’m not even on the f--king BART, I’m on the BART f--king platform getting ready to get on BART. He’s saying I’m eating on BART. What f--king BART do you see? [unintelligible] your fa--ot a--. You f--king f--. Ask your momma what my name is,” Foster ranted as a woman filming on her phone offered her two cents that everybody eats on the platform.
As soon as backup arrived on the scene, officers began handcuffing Foster and took him into custody.
The video showed Foster screaming and cursing through the train station to all the other passengers that he had been arrested for eating a sandwich on the platform.
But he was being detained for refusing to give his name to police officers, not for eating on the platform, KGO.
Had Foster given his name to the officer, he likely would have received a written citation and been on his way.
"He was handcuffed once he refused to provide identification. He was cited and released once he provided identification," a BART spokesman said in a statement.
The video of the incident that was posted to social media quickly went viral, and inspired a group of activists to organize an “eat in” on train platforms throughout the BART system on Monday to protest the arrest, ABC News reported.
Officials tried to explain that eating in the BART system is illegal and that Foster wasn’t actually arrested.
“We have confirmed w/ the Deputy Chief he was not arrested. He was cited for eating, which is a violation of state law,” BART tweeted last week, according to The New York Times. “No matter how you feel about eating on BART, the officer saw someone eating and asked him to stop, when he didn’t he was given a citation.”
BART General Manager Bob Powers said in a statement that “eating in the paid area is banned and there are multiple signs inside every station saying as much.”
Powers also acknowledged that Foster refused to provide identification and “cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm throughout the entire engagement.”
But then he went on to apologize to the passenger who broke the law and cursed at police by saying that “context is key” and the officer might have gone too far, The New York Times reported.
At least one member of the BART board thought the apology by the general manager was ridiculous, KGO reported.
"I think that our police officer, in this case, acted exactly the way he is expected to. To uphold the law,” BART Director Debora Allen said. “The whole thing has been rather humiliating to our police force that our General Manager reacted this way.”
The BART Police Officers’ Association has backed up the officers involved in the incident.
"In this situation, our officer was calm and professional when he advised a rider (Steve Foster) of the prohibition against eating in the paid area of the station. Unfortunately Foster immediately became hostile and belligerent,” the union said in a written statement.
Foster said he is considering legal action and he does not accept the Powers’ apology, according to KGO.
Watch video of the controversial incident here below: