Passengers describe the Muni driver as being dragged on the street and bloodied in the attack, and say police showed little interest in the suspect before merely moving on.
Mission Local has a disturbing new story that’s sure to escalate the debate between those who say we need more police and those who say what does it matter, they just stand there and watch. And this story, regrettably, falls into the “stand there and watch” category. But the basics are that a 14-Mission Muni driver was attacked and bloodied while driving in early January, and eyewitnesses say the police passively let the attacker walk away.
The incident on its own, in which a passenger dragged a 14-Mission bus driver out of his seat and into the street, was alarming enough. But the Cohens were unprepared for the police response that followed on that Monday evening.— Mission Local (@MLNow) January 18, 2022
We should note that this account of an incident on January 3, on the 14-Mission at Ninth and Mission Streets, is based only on the stories of two eyewitnesses. But SFMTA has confirmed there was an “incident” between a driver and a passenger at that time and location, and the SFPD is investigating, and according to Mission Local, the police department is “unable to locate a police report for the incident.”
And that may square with the indifference that eyewitnesses allege. At about 6:15 p.m. on the day in question, they say a shirtless man with no mask boarded the bus, not paying his fare. “The driver said something, I don’t know what,” witness Becky Cohen told Mission Local. “And the guy turned around and went over and started punching the bus driver.”
Cohen says she called the police after the suspect dragged the driver out of the bus (!), and the two fought on Mission Street. Police did arrive, by which time the driver was covering his bloodied nose and mouth with a handkerchief. “Several of us were telling [police], ‘that’s the guy right there,’” she said, “and it’s like, they kind of ignored that.”
Witness Daniel Cohen claims that police “look[ed] at the guy, he was 20 feet away, and decided that, instead of running after the guy and catching him, they needed to go get their car, wherever their car was.”
“And then the guy took off.”
Again SFMTA acknowledges that something happened at that date and time, but gives little further detail. “Violence against our operators is not tolerated at all whatsoever,” spokesperson Erika Kato told Mission Local.
You could argue that the police are still investigating. You could argue that maybe they did catch the guy, and the report hasn’t surfaced or been submitted yet. Or you could say that the two witnesses are simply full of it. But this story dovetails into a larger and long-running criticism that the SFPD is overly aggressive in some situations, but shockingly lax if they’re just not in the mood.