The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System is refusing to release the incident report where a group of trolley officers were caught on video aggressively wrestling down a man who refused to put out a cigarette.
The trolley officers, who are not certified law enforcement officers but private security guards from Heritage Security Services, also turned on the videographer, ordering him to stop filming.
But the videographer, Rob Hurlbut, continued filming, capturing a struggle between three trolley officers and a man who was complaining that they were hurting him.
Hurlbut posted the video on his website last September and it was also reported by a local NBC affiliated news station that month. That video is below.
San Diego Reader’s request to view the incident report from that evening was denied by Tiffany Lorenzen, general counsel for Metropolitan Transit System, based on the California Public Records Act, which exempts documents from disclosure that are either: (1) records pertaining to current litigation to which the public agency is a party; or (2) records of complaints to, or investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, and any state, or local police agency.
Lorenzen did not confirm MTS’s reason for refusing to disclose the incident report.
While smoking is forbidden on the platforms of the trolley system, it is usually handled by citing the offender rather than tackling and arresting him.
When the story first aired on NBC last September, the focus was on how Hurlbut was harassed for filming the trolley officers. The president of Heritage Security Services even went as far as apologizing to Hurlbut.
But as more people kept viewing the video, especially on this site, the attention started to turn to why the trolley officers were so aggressive in dealing with a man who had refused to put out a cigarette.
Now the question is whether or not these trolley officers are receiving adequate training.
It doesn’t appear that they are.
Several trolley officers spoke to 10News under the condition of anonymity and claimed Heritage did not provide proper training for its employees. Two officers who spoke to 10News’ Mitch Blacher said officers who carry guns are not trained to handle critical situations.
“It’s dangerous for the officers and, to some extent, the public,” one former officer stated.