A black couple from San Francisco that was roughed up by BART officers earlier in the year is now claiming that the incident caused one of the victims to have a miscarriage.
The original incident took place on July 29 at the Embarcadero station when officers accused Michael Smith of trying to rob a BART train passenger.
Newly released body cam footage shows Smith getting yelled at by an officer as he exits a train. The officers, with guns drawn, order Smith to go down to the ground without once explaining why.
BART officers claimed that they received a 911 call from a passenger.
“I’m reporting two African Americans on a BART train right now, one just threatened to rob me. We believe he has a weapon on him,” said the passenger.
Andrea Appleton, who was in her first trimester of a pregnancy at the time, was heading to a doctor’s appointment.
In the footage, officers can be seen forcefully pinning and handcuffing the couple. As it was happening, Smith can be heard screaming, “She’s pregnant! She’s pregnant!”
According to department policy, officers are not supposed to handcuff a pregnant individual with their hands behind their back, but that didn’t stop officers from doing it anyways.
Appleton eventually had a miscarriage, two weeks after the incident. She is blaming the officers for the way they handled that situation.
“It’s not fair to me and my boyfriend to lose our child and to you know… be having to go through this,” said Appleton on Wednesday at a press conference.
BART Spokeswoman Alicia Trost issued a statement in which the department tried to deflect blame.
“It was not clear or known if the female was pregnant,” specifically because “she was not visibly showing,” she said.
“After the adult female said she was pregnant, body cameras show the officer treated her with respect, stood her up in a comfortable position almost immediately, moved her away from possible injury that could occur, and asked her about her well-being or if she needed medical attention, which she declined,” she continued.
Appleton explained that she feared for her life, saying, “I was thinking like we were gonna get hurt because I was thinking about what happened to Oscar Grant so I was just scared.”
Public defender Jeff Adachi is calling for all charges against Smith to be dropped while an internal investigation looks into the officer’s use of force.
“Under the law, police have to tell you why you’re being stopped,” Adachi said.
But that isn’t good enough for BART’s Deputy Chief Jeff Jennings, who blamed Smith and Appleton for escalating the situation.
“If Mr. Smith would have just sat there and put his hands up and went down on ground, if he chose not to spit, chose not to bite my officer, he would have been home and none of this would have happened,” he said.
Adachi dismissed those notions, saying it was reasonable for Smith to act in self defense.
“If the officers use excessive force, you are allowed to use reasonable force to defend yourself,” said Adachi.
“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,” he added.
See the shocking footage below: