[WATCH] Couple in San Francisco Sue BART Police After Violent Arrest Causes Miscarriage

A couple taken to the ground and arrested during a video-recorded encounter with BART police at a San Francisco train station are suing the agency in federal court, alleging that officers violated their civil rights and caused the woman to suffer a miscarriage.

In a lawsuit filed Sept. 1 at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Michael Smith and Andrea Appleton accused the arresting officers — Bryan Trabanino, Wilson Velasquez-Ochoa, Jimmy Chung and Antwinette Turner — of using excessive force when they approached the couple with their guns drawn on July 29, 2016, and forced them onto their stomachs at Embarcadero Station.

Appleton was pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage the next day, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages for pain, suffering, fear, anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress. Smith ended up being prosecuted in a racially charged trial, and was ultimately cleared.

A white BART passenger called 911 to report that two African American passengers threatened to rob him and were possibly armed. After a violent confrontation on the Embarcadero platform, it was determined that neither Matthew Smith or Andrea Appleton were armed. Smith was charged, and later acquitted for allegedly assaulting the officers, but was not charge with anything related to the 911 caller.

Alicia Trost, a BART spokeswoman, declined to comment, saying the agency had not reviewed the suit. In the past, the agency has noted that video footage showed Smith struggling with the officers and spitting at one of them.

The couple said they had been traveling to a doctor’s appointment when a man on their train told them to move away because they smelled, sparking an argument. The man, who was white, then called police and falsely reported that Smith, who is black, had threatened to rob him, telling dispatchers that Smith may have had a gun, though he did not.

Officers stopped Smith and Appleton as they got off the train and ordered them onto the platform. Video footage showed an officer holding Appleton facedown on the ground with his knee in her back and pulling her arms behind her as she protested that she was pregnant.

Smith, who was on the ground as well, began thrashing and screaming that Appleton was pregnant as the officers struggled to hold him down. Appleton said it wasn’t until this point that an officer asked her if she was pregnant and then helped her off the ground. In the videos, her hands remained cuffed behind her back.
BART police policy states that pregnant women should be “restrained in the least restrictive manner that is effective for officer safety and in no event shall these persons be restrained by the use of leg irons, waist chains or handcuffs behind body.”

Smith was charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, but a jury found him not guilty of four criminal counts. Jurors were split on four other counts, and prosecutors declined to retry Smith on the charges.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Couple-arrested-by-BART-sues-claiming-brutality-12184351.php