Twenty-five seconds after getting off a BART train, a BART police officer shot and killed Charles Hill, newly released surveillance video reveals. The officer had a Taser on his belt, but did not reach for it before firing his gun, the footage shows.
The video, which BART released Thursday, is the first known recording of the July 3 shooting. Hill never appears on the video.
The footage shows one of the police officers shooting at something off-screen as passengers board a BART train at the Civic Center station.
BART police have said that officers were called to the station after a passenger reported that a man was causing a disturbance on the platform. Hill, a 45-year-old homeless man, was apparently inebriated.
The footage shows the two officers getting off the train around 9:45 p.m. In the video, passengers are moving normally on the platform, seemingly unperturbed by Hill.
The two officers walk toward Hill, and one officer — the one who shoots Hill — begins to put on gloves, something BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said police do when "feel that they physically have to take someone into custody."
It is at this point — 15 seconds after officers arrive — that Hill threw a liquor bottle at the officers, Rainey said. The bottle is not visible on the video.
Rainey said that Hill then raised a knife with a 4-inch blade above his head before he was shot. The officer told Hill to drop the knife, Rainey said. The surveillance video does not include audio.
Rainey said the officer "drew his weapon" because he "felt threatened."
The officer walking toward Hill suddenly backs up and draws his gun. He fires the gun as people continue to walk around the platform. Children can be seen in the background.
A second after the gun is fired, the knife enters the frame. Rainey said he did not know whether Hill threw the knife before the officer shot him. The knife ricochets off a BART train and spins on the floor behind the officer who fired his weapon.
Rainey would not say how close Hill was to the officer.
The officer who shot Hill had a Taser in his belt. The other officer did not have a Taser — and is only visible in the first few seconds of the video.
A second knife with a 4-inch blade, which police believe belonged to Hill, was also found at the scene, although Rainey said Hill wasn’t threatening the officers with that knife.
When asked whether he thought the shooting was justified, Rainey said that will be up to the agencies investigating the shooting: the San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, BART police and BART’s independent police auditor.
“They are going to say whether it’s justified or not,” he said.
The video offers the first glimpse of what may have led BART police to shoot and kill Hill, who was homeless and known around San Francisco for his yelling and drinking.
Until now, only one witness had told her story. Myleen Hollero told The Bay Citizen earlier this month that Hill was moving slowly toward the two officers, who had their guns drawn. Hollero said that Hill was “definitely” not “running or lunging” at the officers when three shots were fired, killing Hill. Hollero said Hill was wearing a green tie-dye T-shirt and was balding, with long, white hair. "He just looked like a drunk hippie," she said.
The partial video does not appear to contradict Hollero's account.