A taser incident on the San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) captured on video last month has led to allegations of racial profiling and use of excessive force.
The Jan. 29 incident, which was captured on a cell phone video, happened shortly after 10 p.m. when a San Francisco police officer boarded a subway car and approached a belligerent man named Robert Asberry.
The officer is white and Asberry is black.
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The officer reportedly asked Asberry to step off the train so that the two could talk, but Asberry, who appeared intoxicated, refused and sat down. At one point, Asberry yells at the officer.
The officer tasers Asberry, causing him to drop to the floor. Moments later other police officers arrive and while two cops stand over Asberry he is once again tasered. Though it is unclear from the video whether Asberry is resisting the officers at this point, he repeatedly yells out, "I didn’t do nothing, I didn’t do nothing!"
While the man is being repeatedly tasered, bystanders watch from just feet way, with one couple cuddling up together staring at the encounter as though they are watching a movie.
Following the tasering incident, at least one of the bystanders complained about the manner in which the police treated the man.
Vidya Kaipa, a marketing analyst from San Francisco who was seated next to Asberry, wrote about what she observed on the local blog Medium. She said Asberry had originally made her feel uncomfortable by his proximity to her, at one point touching her hair and calling her "classy," but never made her feel threatened and was genuinely nice, the Daily Mail reported
As she saw the stand-off between the officer and Asberry escalating, Kaipa said she told the cop, "It’s fine. He’s not bothering me. It’s okay."
Responding to the criticisms from some, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey told NBC’s Bay Area News
that he ordered an investigation in to the matter while defending his officer’s actions.
"He warned the suspect numerous times again on this video. He's extremely patient and the suspect was not going to comply, so he tased him," Rainey said.
Rainey also pointed out that Asberry is a parolee who had a warrant out for his arrest.
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