SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi is calling for District Attorney George Gascon drop the remaining charges against an African American man who was accused of trying to rob a BART passenger in July.
Michael Smith was eventually arrested by BART police officers at the Embarcadero station and now his girlfriend is alleging that the confrontation was so violent that it led to the miscarriage of her unborn child. It's information that was not allowed to be presented during Smith's trial earlier this year.
Today Adachi released new police body camera video from July 29th that shows BART police officers yelling at Michael Smith to get down as he's exiting the train. He is handcuffed and pinned underneath officers' knees, on his back. Later, he spits in the face of an officer who slams his head to the ground.
A 911 audio recording revealed that a fellow BART passenger had called authorities, alleging that Smith and his girlfriend Andrea Appleton were armed with a gun and threatened to rob him.
"Keep in mind up to this point he's not being told anything about why he's being stopped," said Adachi as he showed the video of Smith being apprehended. "And under the law, police have to tell you why you're being stopped."
Adachi said it turned out there was no gun, which was corroborated by witnesses.
The video shows the couple being handcuffed and put face down on the ground. Appleton appears to comply with police orders, while Smith, Adachi admits, was "squirming and spit."
Smith would later be charged with battery and resisting arrest but Adachi said he had every right to fight police.
"If the officers use excessive force, you are allowed to use reasonable force to defend yourself," said Adachi. It's a legal strategy that comes in the wake of heightened scrutiny over police use of force and issues of race.
In the video, Smith yelled several times in reference to his girlfriend, "She's pregnant! She's pregnant!"
Appleton was in the early stages of a pregnancy at the time. She said she ended up losing the baby two weeks after the incident and blames the miscarriage on officers' actions and the stress of the situation.
"It's not fair to me and my boyfriend to lose our child and to you know… be having to go through this," Appleton said in a press conference at Adachi's office this afternoon.
“I was thinking like we were gonna get hurt because I was thinking about what happened to Oscar Grant so I was just scared,” Appleton said.
Use of force expert Barbara Attard said she was shocked by the police body camera video and by their recount of what happened on the platform that day.
"The officers actually lied in some of their statements and some of their police reports," said Attard.
BART officials said an internal investigation is underway with results due out in January.
But BART Deputy Chief Jeff Jennings stands by his officers' actions, saying Smith was the one who was violent. "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," said Jennings.
Smith was recently acquitted on four counts of battery on an officer but there are still three additional misdemeanor charges against him. Public Defender Jeff Adachi wants those charges dropped. No comment from the District Attorney's Office.
Appleton says she has no plans to file a lawsuit against BART yet.
More raw video from police worn body cameras related to this incident: