BART Police Officer David McCormick has been identified as the San Francisco area transit authority officer seen in a viral video detaining and handcuffing a black man on a train platform at the Pleasant Hill station for eating a sandwich. McCormick, whose name tag says D. McCormick, and the other officers involved in the incident are facing an investigation into their actions and are the subjects of outrage on social media.
McCormick was identified by Heavy through public records. He is the only officer listed in the Bay Area Rapid Transit system’s payroll records with the last name McCormick and the first initial D.
The video was posted to Facebook by Steve Foster, the man who was detained by McCormick, and was recorded on November 4 at 8 a.m. by Foster’s girlfriend. Foster, who uses the name Bill Gluckman on Facebook, wrote, “Just out of curiosity.. has anybody ever got arrested and written a ticket for eating a breakfast sandwich on a Bart platform at 8:00 in the morning. Nobody? Just me? Okay.”
Foster, 31, was briefly handcuffed, but was released from custody with a citation and was not arrested. Protesters gathered at the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco and the Pleasent Hill station for an “eat-in” called “Brunch on BART” on November 9 to support Foster.
On Monday, November 11, BART General Manager Bob Powers issued a statement saying, “I’m disappointed how the situation unfolded. I apologize to Mr. Foster, our riders, employees, and the public who have had an emotional reaction to the video.”
Here’s what you need to know about BART Police Officer David McCormick and the viral incident:
1. Officer McCormick Says in the Video, ‘You’re Eating. It’s Against the Law … You’re Going to Jail’
In the 15-minute video posted to Facebook on November 8 by Steve Foster, he can be seen on the platform at the Pleasant Hill BART station with a breakfast sandwich in one hand, while holding a bag in his other hand. Officer David McCormick can be seen also holding the bag as the confrontation unfolds. Foster’s girlfriend, Nicole Hernandez, is filming. The video can be watched above.
Foster also posted a second video of McCormick explaining to Foster why he was being given a citation.
During the part of the incident on the platform, McCormick can be heard telling Foster, “You are detained and you are not free to go. You’re eating. It’s against the law.”
After Foster says, “so what,” and tries to pull his bag away, McCormick tells him, “You’re going to jail.” Foster responds, “I’m not going to jail for eating a f*cking sandwich,” and McCormick answers, “No, for resisting arrest.”
The two continue to go back and forth, with Foster using profanity and homophobic slurs directed at the officer before he is handcuffed and taken inside the station when three backup officers arrive.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said in a statement to SFGate, “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.”
During the incident, Foster can be heard saying, “I’m not even on BART.” McCormick replies, “I just explained that you are detained. Did I not? You are detained and you’re not free to go.” Foster tells the officer, “You came over here and f*cked with me out of all these people.”
McCormick replies, “You’re eating … It’s a violation of California law. I have a right to detain you.”
Trost said in a statement, “The individual was not cooperative and was not providing his identification which is needed for a citation and is why the engagement lasted as long as it did.”
Foster told KGO-TV, “It would have been simpler if he would have come up to me and said hey, you can’t eat on BART nor on the platform. I should have been informed because I didn’t know I couldn’t eat on the platform.”
His girlfriend, Hernandez, told the news station, “”When he was grabbing him, like four, I don’t know if it was four or six officers who came running up about a sandwich, I was nervous. When they turned him around and grabbed him and put him in handcuffs, I was nervous.”
Foster told the news station he is considering taking legal action against BART and its police department.
2. BART Police Issued a Statement Saying McCormick Was Right That Eating Is a Violation of State Law
ABC 7 News was the first to report on the video and obtained a statement on November 8 from BART Police spokeswoman Alicia Trost saying, “He was not arrested. He was cited for eating, which is a violation of state law.” She added that he was, “lawfully handcuffed after refusing to provide his name multiple times. Once he provided his name, he was cited and released.”
According to BART, California state law forbids people from eating or drinking in the paid portions of the station, along with on train cars. As ABC 7 wrote, “In other words, from the time you enter the turnstiles to the time to exit them at your destination.” But Foster and others say that the law is not applied consistently and accuse the police of targeting minorities. Foster also questioned in the video why food is sold at a store at the BART station if it is not allowed beyond the turnstiles.
Foster, of Concord, told the news station, “I was just up there eating my sandwich waiting for the train to come. I’m definitely upset, mad, a little frustrated, angry about it. I hope they start focusing on stuff that actually matters like people shooting up dope, hopping the BART, people getting stabbed.”
BART General Manager Bob Powers said in a statement, “Moving 415,000 riders each day comes with complexities and there are laws in place to keep our system safe, welcoming, and clean. I’ve seen the video of the incident involving a man eating on our platform and our police response. Eating in the paid area is banned and there are multiple signs inside every station saying as much. As a transportation system our concern with eating is related to the cleanliness of our stations and system. This was not the case in the incident at Pleasant Hill station on Monday.”
Powers added, “The officer asked the rider not to eat while he was on the platform responding to another call. It should have ended there, but it didn’t. Mr. Foster did not stop eating and the officer moved forward with the process of issuing him a citation. The individual refused to provide identification, cursed at and made homophobic slurs at the officer who remained calm throughout the entire engagement.”
The BART GM continued, “The officer was doing his job but context is key. Enforcement of infractions such as eating and drinking inside our paid area should not be used to prevent us from delivering on our mission to provide safe, reliable, and clean transportation. We have to read each situation and allow people to get where they are going on time and safely.”
Other BART leaders are defending the officer and have said Powers should not have apologized.
“I think that our police officer, in this case, acted exactly the way he is expected to. To uphold the law. The whole thing has been rather humiliating to our police force that our General Manager reacted this way,” BART Director Debora Allen told KGO-TV.
The BART Police Department’s union issued a statement saying, “In this situation, our officer was calm and professional when he advised a rider of the prohibition against eating in the paid area of the station. Unfortunately Foster immediately became hostile and belligerent. … he refused to comply and continued to curse at the officer.”
BART Police Managers Association President Jason Ledford told the San Francisco Examiner, “Our officers deserve greater respect. … Our officer should be applauded for his professionalism and restraint. The public has told us time and again that they’re concerned about the lawlessness on BART.”
3. McCormick Was Paid More Than $135,000 in 2018, Public Records Show & Has Been an Officer Since at Least 2012
Officer David T. McCormick has worked for the BART Police Department since at least 2012, public records show. He was a senior police officer from 2012 to 2013, and became a master police officer in 2014. In 2016, he reached the level of master police officer II.
McCormick was paid $135,108 in total pay in 2018, up from $133,025 in 2017, according to records from Transparent California, the state’s “largest public pay and pension database.”
The 53-year-old McCormick lives in Danville, California.
4. He Was Named Officer of the Year in 2014 & Was Recognized for His ‘Heroism’ in 2013
Officer McCormick was honored in 2014 as the Albany/El Cerrito Exchange Club Officer of the Year, according to a publication by the BART Police Department.
In October 2013, McCormick was “recognized for (his) on-the-job heroism,” by the Northern California Chief Special Agents Association. “The NCCSAA bestowed the Association’s Valor/Officer of the Year Awards to BART Detective John Johnson and Officer David McCormick for demonstrating exceptional courage in two very risky situations which played out in the middle of crowded public areas,” former BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said in a press release.
Rainey added, “We are thrilled that one of our partners who assist us in our public safety mission selected our officers for this honor.”
According to BART, “Officer David McCormick was selected for responding to a man who was threatening to harm himself and who climbed on top of a stopped train at MacArthur Station during the morning commute in May.”
Rainey said, “.The suspect’s actions caused a traffic nightmare for both BART riders and commuters because he jumped down from the train and ran across the busy freeway before returning to our property where he climbed back on top of the train. “The incident was frightening for our passengers on both our platform and in the incident train who watched as the situation unfolded.”
McCormick, “was able to safely take the man into custody after he built a rapport with him without anyone being injured,” BART said. Rainey added, “In both scenarios, the suspects’ actions were dangerous and threatened public safety. However, our officers’ quick response led to the arrest of both suspects without incident.”
5. The Independent Police Auditor for BART Is Investigating the Incident
An investigation into the incident is underway, according to BART.
“I’ve spoken to our interim Police Chief about my feelings related to this incident and our Independent Police Auditor is conducting an independent investigation. He will report his findings to our Citizen Review Board,” BART General Manager Bob Powers said in a statement.
According to its website, “It is OIPA’s mission to provide all members of the public with effective and independent oversight of the BART Police Department by conducting unbiased and thorough independent investigations and reviews of police department investigations, making policy recommendations to improve the performance of the police department, and maintaining continual communication with members of the public in the BART service area.”
And, “The BART Police Citizen Review Board shall have the authority to exercise its duties and responsibilities as outlined in the BART Citizen Oversight Model, with regard to law enforcement and police activities or personnel operating under the authority of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.”
McCormick could not be reached for comment by Heavy.
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