How Should the SFPD Deal With Somebody Like Epic Beard Man Thomas Bruso, Tasers?

[UPDATE: Tom speaks out on video.]

Now-famous 62-year-old Bay Arean Thomas Bruso (aka Epic Beard Man, Tom Swift, and Tom Vietnam) picks fights as he rides AC Transit in the East Bay, of course, (incident video now available in high def) but he also has been known to take BART to visit San Francisco from time to time. For example, here he is near Market Street back when he was just 48, as seen by Caliber photographer Troy Holden:

“Back in 1996, I was working at the intersection of 2nd & Market. Each and every day the man pictured above would walk by my shop, wave a loaf of sourdough in my face, and scream obscenities about the San Francisco 49’ers.”

Good times, via Troy Holden

This guy is as strong as an ox and quite onery to boot, needless to say. So, could Tasers help the SFPD control and handcuff Tom (the next time he’s off his meds) and people like him should the need arise?

Let’s find out, courtesy of footage of Tom at an Oakland A’s game last year. Is this a proper use of a Taser? I don’t know. It ended up being a time-saver for the cops, certainly. Would they have felt justified in shooting Tom with bullets at that moment? Obviously not. The question after any Taser discharge is what would you have done if you didn’t have the Taser, right?

If cops view using a Taser as a first resort, you end up with a tragedy like that of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International.

Speaking of Tasers and the East Bay, check out this excellent report from Demian Bulwa about how the BART Police Department ran the initial stages of its Taser program.

That’s a poorly-run operation. What about the California Highway Patrol? They seem to do be doing better with Tasers these days. For them, a Taser is just another arrow in the quiver. Check it, a CHP officer on San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard with his two primary weapons, a Smith & Wesson Model 4006 semi-automatic and a TASER International X26:


So why shouldn’t the SFPD have Tasers? We already trust them with handguns and assault rifles, right? We’ll end up with a few more lawsuits but with fewer dead civilians. Sounds like a win, overall.

And finally, let’s hear from the RAND Coporation. They pondered the use of Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs) for the NYPD and had this to say: 

“Our key less-than-lethal force recommendations:

We reviewed reports of about 455 NYPD shootings from 2004 to 2006 and identified 25 cases where we judged that had a less-lethal weapon been available, officers may have used it to subdue suspects instead of using their handguns.

We also note that when other departments have deployed Conducted Energy Devices or CEDs, commonly known by the brand name TASER, injuries to both suspects and officers have declined.

We recognize that some groups have criticized the deployment of CEDs, raising issues of safety, overuse, and misuse. As such we recommend that the NYPD undertake a pilot program for the deployment of CEDs.

Such a program should allow patrol officers in selected precincts to be trained and equipped with CEDs that can incapacitate suspects from a distance. We believe there is evidence that if NYPD officers had access to this device, some number of officer-involved shootings could be avoided, and injuries to both suspects and police officers will decline. A carefully designed pilot program conducted over six to 12 months in a few select precincts would give the department enough information to determine whether the devices would alter the way the NYPD officers apply force and whether the weapons could be used properly.”

So, it would seem a well-executed Taser program could be a good thing for the SFPD.

Oh and yes, an apology from videographer Iyanna, after the jump

After millions of views of her video from yesterday, comes now the student on the bus with the camera.

She made her points effectively, IMO.

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33 Responses to “How Should the SFPD Deal With Somebody Like Epic Beard Man Thomas Bruso, Tasers?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Mr Bruso had every right to punch that guys lights out.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    I see what you’re saying, as he wasn’t the first to throw a punch. However there are a few other factors here, of course.

  3. Go EBM says:

    It was pretty clear cut that he had the right to drop this clown. Had he not moved to the front of the bus to try to diffuse the situation, then I would say they were both equally at fault.

  4. Steve Seyyedin says:

    Did you watch the video, sfcitizen? Here are some things that show you are willfully ignorant:
    1) I will grant that Epic Beard Guy was out of line. But he showed more self control than Demolished Thug Guy when he went to the front of the bus.
    So saying he picks fights is entirely disingenuous. He stepped out of the situation but the thug was following him and egging him on.

    2) Do you know that the dude tasered at the A’s game is Epic Beard Guy? I don’t. My guess is you don’t either. So to say so shows your ignorance. Don’t spread lies and hearsay, child.

    3) And to say that Iyanna made her points clearly is willfully disregarding her statements during the situation like “Beat his white ass!”. She never apologized for saying that stuff, she dances around it. She takes the bag from the dude and then says she was saving it for the cops (uh huh, i believe you) but then left it on the bus?!! If you believe her, then you are as stupid as she is.

    4) Finally, what would tasers have done? You’re building up your argument to have tasers, but cops with tasers wouldn’t have changed anything. The fight would still have happened.

    So all in all a VERY poor article…

  5. sfcitizen says:

    1) He’s asking a random black guy on the bus to shine his shoes for a funeral on Friday. That’d be OK is the young guy was carrying a shoe shine kit, but he wasn’t.
    2) Same dude. He goes off his meds sometimes.
    3) The bag had corn in it. She didn’t steal it.
    4) Tasers would be perfect for this guy if he’s charging a peace officer or something like that.

  6. Steve Seyyedin says:

    1) You still ignore the fact that he tried to extricate himself by walking away. The black dude couldn’t do that and he got violent. His getting violent resulted in his a** getting beat.
    2) you seem to be sure of this. how?
    3) Your argument: she says there wasn’t anything worth stealing, so she didn’t steal it. I see. Very strong.
    4) He surrendered to the cops without incident.

  7. sfcitizen says:

    I’m not ignoring anything. Tom picked a fight, whether he realizes it or not. It’s the same dude, it was in the papers. Tom was locally famous before he became internationally famous. Why would she tape herself stealing a bag? Yes, yesterday he surrendered, sometimes he doesn’t. You want the cops to shoot him with real bullets? The SFPD has zero Taser guns in service right now.

  8. biggus dickis says:

    1) He’s asking a random black guy on the bus to shine his shoes for a funeral on Friday. That’d be OK is the young guy was carrying a shoe shine kit, but he wasn’t. WRONG HE JUST GOT ON THE BUS At fruitvalle aftertalking to HIS BEST FRIEND A BACK SHOESHINER WHO LOANED HIM FARE
    2) Same dude. He goes off his meds sometimes——.Lots of people talk smack about football
    3) The bag had corn in it. She didn’t steal it.-no it didnt it belonged to his friende
    4) Tasers would be perfect for this guy if he’s charging a peace officer or something like that.TASE YOU

  9. sfcitizen says:

    Shoeshining was on his mind at the bus stop, that’s true.

  10. Steve Seyyedin says:

    Do you know that’s how it started? that Epic Beard Man started it by asking a random black dude on the bus to shine his shoes? Maybe Face Destroyed Guy was harassing him for getting his shoes shined by black guy. You don’t know, so stop pretending.

    As I said orignally, Epic Beard Man was being an ass. But you ARE ignoring the fact that Face Destroyed Guy was the main aggressor. Nowhere in your article do you mention how he is acting like a psycho.

    You’re too PC. You wouldn’t dare say “Maybe SFPD should have tasers to deal with thugs on public transit instead of having Epic Beard Man deal with them.” Idiot

  11. sfcitizen says:

    Tom was off his meds yesterday, he’s back on them today. What will tomorrow bring?

  12. Steve Seyyedin says:

    Nice retort. It doesn’t address any of my points, but i guess that doesn’t matter.

    You still won’t criticize Face Destroyed Guy even though he is clearly an ass, prolly cuz you’re too scared to be branded a racist.

    And you won’t dare mention the fact that Iyanna Washington was obviously egging on the black guy to fight the other guy. Instead you accept her ‘apology’ in whihc she never apologizes for saying racist comments (Pinky) and/or inciting violence (Beat his white ass!)

    Grow a pair…

  13. sfcitizen says:

    I’m not telling you how to feel about it, right? People can watch the vids to see what happened, right?


  15. Stout says:

    You still have yet to respond to what the African American did to instigate this. Neither party was innocent. However, by trying to diffuse the situation and walking away, Tom was more so. The black guy was the first to mention race, The first to curse, the first to get violent. But I guess its all because he was oppressed and didnt get his 40 and mule.

  16. sfcitizen says:

    I don’t think you go around asking people to shine your shoes, do you?

    I don’t think Vietnam Tom would ask Mr.T to shine his shoes neither.

    It’s obvious who threw the first punch, of course.

  17. PJG Stokes says:

    I’m confused as to how the video of ‘Epic Beard Guy’ indicates anything other than he is a wiley old man. He even moves to the front of the bus to avoid escalation and inquires as to why the attacker is ‘so hostile’. All of which is completely acceptable behavior. He was both metaphorically and physically the ‘bigger man’.

    I suppose this blog post really boils down to the type of feeling present in the United States that Marge Simpson parodies when she says ‘the justice system my no longer work but as long as everyone is filming everyone else justice will be served’.

    As for SFPD having tazzers? The question that first needs to be asked; Are cops properly trained?

  18. sfcitizen says:

    The SFPD isn’t trained on Tasers yet, for the most part. The CHP is trained already. The CHP seems to do All right with Tasers.

    Tom has a victory, but it’s not a clean victory.

  19. BBK says:

    I think its unreal that you are suggesting that having tasers at all is a good thing. Perhaps no-one should be “armed”. If I am reading this correctly, you are suggesting that Tom should of been tasered for asking for a shoe shine (if that was what he was actually doing), or perhaps for defending himself when he was followed then hit on a public bus.
    If that is the case, then I strongly disagree that you should treat the general public with Violence when you think they are disorderly – which I don’t by the way. But maybe that’s just the american way.

  20. sfcitizen says:

    Tasers can be a good thing. These are peace officers we’re talking about. Tom surrendered this time, no Tasering necessary. How would you handle this 280 rutting bull moose the next time he goes off? Just shoot him with a gun?


    I love all the talk about the white guy coming off his “meds”. Could we please review the black guys criminal past, not to assume…I just have a hunch.

  22. nero says:

    The reason he mentions the shoe-shine is because the black guy said it first. Listen to the dialogue, EBG asks the black guy what he said and he repeats it admitting he said something like ‘why a brother got to shine a white man’s shoe round here?’. The black guy said that because EBG’s foot was in his way when he was walking through the bus, it was a sarcastic comment which turned into an argument.

  23. sfcitizen says:

    Not aware of all the details before the video got going. Tom said he was planning on attending a funeral on Friday (that could be true or not, as Tom tends to lie about things, like age, for example) and, earlier in the day, he was talking all about shoe shining with the people at the bus stop while he was trying to raise money for the fare.

    Does Tom really think he was talking to a boot black? Don’t know.

  24. Chip e fresh says:

    you all forget he is the one that asked a random black dude on a bus to polish his shoes…. it was an awsome video thouh… call da ambalamps !!!!

  25. […] Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized “I AM A MOTHERFUCKER” How Should the SFPD Deal With Somebody Like Epic Beard Man Thomas Bruso? AC transit fight Tom gets tased at an A’s game Warning: most of this stuff is pretty […]

  26. maeyb whaitf says:

    I heard that before the camera turned on, EBM had his feet in the aisle when Leaky got on. Supposedly Leaky said something smart along the lines of “You want me to shine those…?” as if to say “move that shit cuz.” Unfortunately, EBM is a little off and misunderstood the passive aggressive shit talking. He thought he heard a business offer -a shoe wax- and being in need, walked to the back of the bus to negotiate said business offer.

    Unfortunately, Leaky was just talking ineffective trash, which EBM picked up on. EPM doesn’t afraid of anything. You cant FUCK with A MOTHERFUCKER. It’s all good, EBM doesn’t waste his time on trash. Just don’t push it…

    Seriously, iyanna talked the whole thing up into action. She is just as cupable as Leaky. Her “appology” is neither an apology or redemption. She never addresses the racial slurs or the “kick his white ass,” she is heard to be saying. She even says she went out looking to “film something” that day. She helped create it IMO.

    EBM should just be put back on his meds. He’s a cool dude, even off the meds, just dont FUCK with A MOTHERFUCKER. I mean he’s loud and obnoxiouos, and hilarous, and harmless, just dont FUCK with him, OK?

    This was close enough to self defense in my book. A broken nose is a good lesson learned for throwing a weak ass punch at a stranger on a bus. Don’t forget who threatened to come back and kill who here …and who threw the first punch …and who first threatened violence. Keep your hands to your DAMN SELF.

  27. Fish says:

    Epic Beard Guy baited the guy with the Stacey Adams remark and the dude took it hook line and sinker. However, Epic Beard Guy gave the dude an out when he moved to the front of the bus. That beating was the result of the guy not wanting to look bad. The beating he took could have easily been avoided. The videographer is as much of a classless racist as anyone else involved.

  28. Whatever says:

    Clearly EBM is at fault for not being completely passive, and for not tolerating Tyrone’s abusive threats and reverse-racism. Does being so utterly biased assuage your feelings of self-guilt? Clearly you give everyone else involved a pass, even going so far as to endorse Iyanna’s completely ridiculous apology.

  29. josh says:






  30. blah says:

    Picks fights?? Did you watch the same video that I did. The man moved to the front of the bus to get away from the other guy.

    If the you and the rest of the liberal media could manage to actually give the news without worrying about being deemed a racist, then the world would be a much better place.

  31. BM says:

    Bruso claims in the other video that he was talking with someone else about his borrowed shoes and how he was going to have them polished by his boy when the black guy interjected assuming “boy” referred to “black man” when in fact he was talking about his son. That was why there was the philosophical discussion on tape about what “boy”could refer too.

    Like if you say “I’m going borrow a dime from my brother” that doesn’t neccesarily mean that you are borrowing ten dollars worth of pot from your black dope dealer. Might just be that the conversation up till then was about using a pay phone. So this “50 year old black” had better get the chip off his shoulder.

    Maybe if the black guy hadn’t interjected himself into EBM’s conversation without knowing the context, along with not punching him in the chest then EBM wouldn’t have had to defend himself. I think he had plenty of reason to be concerned about his safety with the blacks yelling “Beat his white ass” before the actual fight, and especially after he walked away.

  32. rb says:

    fuck you sfcitizen. You are so full of shit

  33. […] is a photo from Troy Holden in 1996 of Bruso in San Francisco. Bruso used to walk past Holden’s shop on 2nd and Market every day with a loaf of sourdough […]