OAKLAND, Calif. - One by one, and then all at once, a group of about 40 young people can be seen swarming the Oakland Coliseum BART station. They consist of boys and girls, some with backpacks and purses. Video, obtained by 2 Investigates, shows all of the young people jumping the BART turnstiles without paying their fares. A seemingly helpless agent gets on the phone.
The footage consisting of three clips show the minutes before three members of the group allegedly beat and robbed Rusty Stapp of Dublin, his family and another man in what’s been dubbed as a “mob-style” attack on April 22, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. News of the violent robbery was highly publicized at the time, but video of the moments beforehand has never been made public before.
“BART police told me the group had just left a house party nearby. It had been broken up by Oakland police,” Stapp told 2 Investigates in an interview. “They reached down to grab my phone away from me, and when I pulled away they took issue with that and I had three individuals on top swinging at me and kicking me.”
The video’s release comes after more than a year of BART police declined to release any footage because the suspects are believed to be minors.
After learning 2 Investigates had the video, BART spokesperson Alicia Trost confirmed three aggressors identified in the attack were arrested. Two were juveniles and one was 18 years old at the time. Trost identified that suspect: 20-year-old Freddie Scott. He spent one year in jail for the crime.
The video obtained by 2 Investigates does not show the actual attack on Stapp. However, it is the same video footage that Stapp said BART police had him review the day after the attack.
Stapp said he and his attorney have not seen the video of his actual robbery, and he’s not certain it exists.
“BART told me the cameras worked in eight out of the ten cars on my train and that that individual official was not in possession of my video,” Stapp said. “They’re being evasive.”
Trost confirmed with 2 Investigates, at the time of the robbery and beating, the camera in Stapp’s BART car was not working, but other cameras in other trains were as well as cameras on the Coliseum station platform. She said the high-quality nature of those videos helped police identify and arrest the three main suspects.
“We made three arrests in the case, one of which was the main aggressor...he actually took a plea and now has three years of probation parole, so we did bring justice to this case,” said Trost.
“It’s interesting to point out that fare evasion for a juvenile is not a criminal act,” she continued. “Most of the group was just there hanging out on a Saturday night with their friends. There was actually a very small number of aggressors who committed crimes.”
In May, BART attorneys argued to get Stapp’s case, along with other similar civil suits, dismissed.
According to court documents, the transit agency argued, “BART and its employees owe no duty to prevent third party criminal conduct.” The argument went on to explain, in general, “…it is well established that public entities generally are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime.”
Stapp’s attorney, Paul Justi, however, is blaming BART, in part, for not catching fare evaders, some of whom he believes then go on to commit more violent crimes. BART is facing similar allegations by the family of Nia Wilson, who was stabbed to death this summer by a man who also evaded paying his BART fare.
Trost said she could not comment on pending litigation, however, in regards to Stapp’s robbery, “We had security in place, our station agent did exactly what [he] was supposed to do and fare evasion is not a crime. It happened so quickly. There was nothing we could do to prevent it.”
2 Investigates confirmed through Trost and BART police, the transit agency does not track fare evasion and crime. BART tracks proof of payment citations, fare evasion (which is a different citation) and it tracks crime. But there is no background work that connects them together.
Meanwhile, Justi said it’s important the public sees this video, even if there are children involved.
“When they decided to commit crimes in public they can hardly seek the protection of privacy because they’re juveniles,” he said.
Justi is also the attorney on three other cases defending six BART victims, including a 12-year-old boy, who say they were targeted in 2015 and 2017. Stapp’s civil case is expected to go to trial in January 2020.
Stapp said he hopes this video will affect policy changes and safety measures at BART.
“This wasn’t a one off incident,” he said. “That something had to change.”