Family sues BART after mob train attack

Three members of a Dublin family who were beaten and robbed by a mob of teenagers at BART’s Coliseum station in Oakland last month have filed a $3 million claim against the transit agency accusing it of failing to protect its passengers.

The claim filed by Rusty Stapp, his wife Patricia and their 19-year-old daughter Amanda alleges that BART was negligent in 11 ways, including allowing the mob to board the train and failing to coordinate with other police agencies.

Attorney Paul Justi, who represents the family, said the family members suffered emotional distress and trauma as a result of the attack and are seeking counseling.

Justi said:

“My clients were terrified during the attack and it has left each of them with deep emotional scars. They did not know whether this mob had weapons and whether they were each going to witness their other family members being killed.”

BART officials said a mob of 40 to 60 young people streamed onto a Dublin-bound train at the Coliseum at about 9:30 p.m. on April 22 and committed at least seven robberies and injured at least two people.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said today that two teenagers have been arrested in connection with the attack but one of them is no longer in custody. She said BART has multiple warrants for other suspects in the case.

Rusty Stapp said the attack occurred after he, his wife his daughter Amanda and another daughter who attends the University of California at Berkeley had celebrated Amanda’s birthday at a restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission district on the evening of April 22.

Stapp said the family went to BART’s 16th Street Mission station in San Francisco after the dinner and the daughter who attends UC Berkeley boarded a Richmond-bound train and the rest of his family boarded a Dublin-bound train.

Stapp said a mob of teenagers beat on the windows of the Dublin-bound train when it reached the Coliseum station.

He said the train’s conductor made an announcement warning the teens that he wouldn’t open the doors unless they backed off but then went ahead and opened the doors a few seconds later, allowing the teens to rush inside.

Justi said:

“There were a whole series of missteps.”

Stapp said two male juveniles jumped on him and started punching him and a third juvenile kicked him and he eventually relinquished his cellphone.

Stapp said then when his wife checked on him a female juvenile reached over and stole her purse and ran off the train.

Stapp said he was injured but not seriously.

Justi said many of the members of the mob had been at a party at a house near the Coliseum that had just been broken up by Oakland police but BART has failed to maintain a liaison program with other law enforcement agencies that could alert passengers about imminent threats.

He said two BART police officers were in the Coliseum station’s parking lot on the night of the attack but they failed to intercept the mob or warn passengers of the threat they posed.

Stapp said a gate attendant at the Coliseum station warned other BART employees that teenagers were jumping the fare gates but the other employees didn’t take any action to stop the youths.

Stapp said surveillance camera footage that he reviewed when he was interviewed by BART police shows that shortly before the Dublin-bound train arrived at the Coliseum station the mob of teens briefly boarded a San Francisco-bound train but got off the train when the teens didn’t find anyone to rob.

Stapp asked:

“Why didn’t the conductor on the San Francisco train raise a red flag?”

Trost said BART officials haven’t yet reviewed the claim and have no comment on it at this time.