A man who was punched in the head by a Bay Area Rapid Transit officer he had spit on will not face a second trial after jurors deadlocked on a number of charges against, but acquitted him on others.
Prosecutors decided Friday that they would not retry Michael Smith, 22, for battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and simple battery, according to San Francisco District Attorney spokesman Alex Bastian.
The charges stemmed from a July 29 confrontation between Smith, his girlfriend and officers at the city’s Embarcadero station. During Smith’s trial earlier this month, jurors acquitted him on three counts of misdemeanor battery on a police officer but deadlocked on four other misdemeanor charges.
A week after the trial, Smith’s public defender, Jeff Adachi, released several videos that captured the confrontation and called on prosecutors to drop the matter, saying his client did nothing wrong.
The videos showed BART officers as they surrounded Smith and his girlfriend, Andrea Appleton, and ordered them to the ground at gunpoint. They also showed a cuffed and restrained Smith lifting his head up and spitting in an officer’s face, and the officer responding by punching Smith in the head.
After the altercation, the pair were taken to a substation, where Smith was booked on suspicion of assaulting and resisting police. Appleton was released.
On Friday, Adachi released a statement that said: “Michael and Andrea are relieved their nightmare is over. Michael was falsely accused of a crime,” he said. “While their lives will never be the same, the specter of a criminal case is no longer looming against Michael.”
BART police officers had focused on Smith and his girlfriend because of a call from another train rider who claimed that Smith and another African American had tried to rob him and that Smith was probably armed.
BART police and prosecutors have said the officers’ response was justified by the report of an armed robber and Smith’s lack of cooperation.
Prosecutors said the videos were edited and that a judge had excluded them from evidence during the trial.
“In excluding the evidence, the judge cited editorial choices that were made, such as altering the audio levels and omitting segments where the defendant is alleged to have bit, kicked, and spit on BART police officers,” according to a release from the district attorney’s office.
Smith’s girlfriend was never charged with a crime, and BART officials said the officers involved in the arrests are back on duty.
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