SAN FRANCISCO—A February 11 altercation on a San Francisco city bus between a police officer and a homeless man quickly turned from verbal to physical.
Following the incident, the transient man, Bernard Warren, 36, was charged with threatening an officer, an offense punishable by one year in prison.
However, after video surfaced picturing both the verbal and physical aspects of the altercation, Warren’s defense is arguing that officer Raymond Chu escalated the conflict and used excessive force against an innocent man.
The conflict began after Chu had difficulty waking Warren, who was sleeping in the back of an empty bus that had reached the end of its route in the Richmond District.
Following the verbal altercation, in which Warren says, “Don’t touch me, I could beat your ass” as he is being led by the arm out of the bus, Officer Chu, apparently antagonized, begins to more aggressively force Warren off the bus, eventually appearing to kick Warren in the back as he approaches the steps.
Following further verbal conflict, Chu proceeded to strike Warren with his baton several times before pepper spraying him in the face.
“This sort of force was totally unnecessary. It was completely over the top,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “If you find anyone sleeping on a bus, it’s reasonable to wake them up and ask [them] to leave. Sure, but is that reason to beat [someone] down?”
The defense is claiming that Chu met the non-criminal act of Warren sleeping on a public bus with aggression and eventually excessive force. A jury is slated to hear the case against Warren on March 4.
The video can be seen here: