East Bay man plans lawsuit over BART train attack in Oakland

DUBLIN (KTVU) -- An East Bay man said Monday that he is pursuing a legal claim against BART after he was attacked last month by a group of rowdy juveniles at the transit agency's Coliseum Station.

Rusty Stapp and his attorney filed a claim, citing negligence by the transit agency in for failing to do enough to prevent and respond to the attack by the group, with estimates of the group ranging between 40 and 60 juveniles.

Stapp said his wife and 18-year-old daughter who were both with him on the train are still traumatized by the incident.

Stapp said he and his family were on their way home to Dublin after celebrating their daughter’s birthday in San Francisco on the night of April 22. He said they noticed the mob when the train stopped at the Coliseum station in Oakland.

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"As we were pulling in, they were beating on the train right where we were sitting," he said Monday from his lawyer's office. "When they walked on the train there wasn’t a care in the world. They didn’t hesitate to do what they did. They didn’t say a word to anybody. They immediately started beating and robbing us."

Stapp said three male juveniles beat him on his head, arms and kicked him in the ribs before taking his iPhone. Then the group targeted other passengers and a fourth female juvenile snatched his wife’s purse.

"My wife leaned over on top of my daughter to protect her," Stapp said. "They started beating on me and my daughter was screaming."

According to Stapp, BART police investigators showed him surveillance videos from that night to help identify some of the suspects. He said the videos show the mob had previously boarded and de-boarded a San Francisco bound train before the attack.

Lawyer Paul B. Justi said the surveillance video should be released to the public, but BART officials said the footage can not be released because the suspects are underage.

"In our opinion, if you commit a crime in a public forum like this, you forfeit any right to privacy," Justi said.

The Walnut Creek-based attorney said BART employees were negligent in keeping riders safe. He said station agents should have warned train operators, and police officers should have intercepted the group before the juveniles boarded the train.

Justi is calling for BART to be more transparent with their crime stats.

"We think there has to be a bigger police presence on the trains, on the platforms, and in the stations,” Justi said.

Strapp added that BART needs to do better.

"We want them to start protecting the citizens who use the system," he said.

A BART spokeswoman declined to comment on pending litigation, but she reviewed the case with KTVU, saying the agency had deployed stepped up police patrols the night of the attack and six of nine BART cars had working cameras.

She said Stapp has been helpful to detectives in identifying suspects and a few arrests have since been made.

By KTVU reporter Cristina Rendon.

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