It’s hard to imagine a BART story as heartbreaking as the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant in 2009. But as we draw upon another new year, details are emerging of another incident wherein BART police use of force may have produced tragic consequences.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released photos and videos on Wednesday of a July arrest by BART police in which Andrea Appleton, 24, was held face down and handcuffed. In the video released, Appleton can be heard audibly telling officers “I’m pregnant”.
Appleton says she learned two weeks later that she miscarried her pregnancy. “It was just hurtful, hurtful about my pregnancy,” she said at a press conference Wednesday. “I lost my baby afterwards.”
The incident occurred on July 29 when Appleton and her boyfriend Michael Smith were traveling westbound on BART. Another passenger called 911 and reported that Smith and Appleton were armed and threatened to rob him, leading BART police to arrest the couple at the Embarcadero station.
Neither was found to be armed. Both Appleton and Smith are African-American, and the accuser who made the 911 call is white. Appleton was cuffed and made to lie on her stomach, though BART police policy prohibits handling pregnant suspects this way.
“We often talk about policy and the use of force, but this is an actual case where you can see how the system failed Michael Smith and Andrea Appleton,” Public Defender Adachi said in a statement. “We’re here not to only look at one criminal case but how we can improve BART policy so this does not happen again in the future.”
Appleton was not charged with a crime, while Smith was charged with multiple counts of battery of an officer and resisting an officer. He was acquitted on four of the charges, but the jury hung on the other charges.