Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 50 / 14 December 2017
 

Video wasn’t working when gay man attacked on SF bus

A gay man who reported being attacked on a San Francisco Muni bus and said the driver allowed his assailant to continue riding says another problem has come up: The video system wasn’t working.

Larry Richardson, 58, (pictured at right) has said that Muni’s surveillance system was not working during the incident, which appears to be hampering the investigation. Muni has confirmed there was a problem with the video.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported earlier, Richardson said that on August 30, another passenger on the number 33 bus traveling toward his Castro area home repeatedly called him “faggot,” and also grabbed his arm. He said his Muni pass was attached to a rainbow necklace he was wearing and that the assault was unprovoked.

Richardson, who’d been sitting near the front of the bus, said that the driver told the other passenger to get off the bus, but the man refused.

“The bus driver let him stay on,” he said. “He didn’t call the police.”

He has submitted a complaint to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which he provided a copy of to the B.A.R. He said he filed a police report after he got home, but police indicated days later that it had been lost. Two officers were sent to his home to take another statement from him, he said.

Since then, Richardson has said that the FBI got involved because the case is being investigated as a hate crime, but that the federal agency dropped the case because the bus’s camera hadn’t been working.

Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco police spokesman, confirmed police were investigating the case and that the FBI had gotten involved, but staff at the FBI’s San Francisco office haven’t responded to messages from the B.A.R. Police have not confirmed Richardson’s remarks about what happened to his original report.

Paul Rose, a Muni spokesman, said in an e-mail this week, “The battery pack on the camera was damaged. We are working with the police department and FBI to reinterview the operator involved.”

Asked about the incident before this week’s board meeting of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Nathaniel Ford, the agency’s executive director and CEO, said, “Our operators are trained to monitor the safety of our passengers” and are supposed to report problems “immediately.”

Richardson said the man who attacked him was around 50 years old and about 150 pounds. He estimated the man, who was black, was 6 feet 2. He said the man had been wearing round headphones “about the size of softballs,” a white shirt, white tennis shoes, and blue jeans with a black stripe below the knee that had “MF” in white lettering.

Last month, 26-year-old Zachary Davenport said he was beaten by a group of youths who repeatedly called him “faggot” on the J Church near Market and Church streets. A 15-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to felony charges in that case.

Davenport has said that the operator in his case stopped the train. Surveillance footage from the train helped lead to his alleged attacker’s arrest.

Tom Nolan, the agency’s board chair and also executive director of Project Open Hand, has expressed concern about the incidents, and Ford said there will be a full briefing on Muni safety at their next meeting, October 19. For more information, go to www.sfmta.com.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, September 23, 2010 @ 5:10 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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