Harassed and Assaulted by Metro Police

This altercation with the Metro Transit Police occurred on July 1, 2011 at about 9:30pm at the Verizon center/Chinatown Metro on the entrance across the street from Rosa Mexicana on 7th & F st in Washington, DC.

The incident began when one of my friend’s metrocard was not working due to it being demagnetized, and I was trying to explain to the metro attendant, along with one of the Metro transit police.

After they chose to ignore my explanation I made the comment

“This is why nobody respects DC police, look at what they are doing to these guys” because at this time some of the officers had three gentleman detained and searching them.

Ana's arm after after the incident.

At this point my friend was coming back from getting her metro card, and my friend and I were walking towards the escalators to the metro.  After this, before I knew it I had a metro transit officer walking briskly towards me.  He grabs me, and eventually pins me to the ground.  He gets me up and handcuffs me.  For the next 45 minutes I am interrogated by four officers, including an undercover female sergeant who was held back by other officers from me while I was handcuffed.  The officer that assaulted me ran my information and then let my friends and me go home.   He also stated, that the female sergeant wanted to arrest me, but he told her that “I had a child so I had to go home,” which is not true.

The next day I woke up to bruises and pain on my torso, and all of my limbs.

Ana's wrist after the incident with WMATA Police Officers.

The Saturday after the incident I contact WMATA, to give me information on the police officers, and told the woman that answered the phone what happened.  The female that was speaking to me on the phone stated that police officers have different guidelines than the rest of the population, and that if they feel they that someone is a threat to the general public than they are allowed to put their hands on someone.

I left a message on that Saturday July 2nd with the WMATA internal affairs.

That Tuesday, July 5 I went to the WMATA headquarters, and tried to see internal affairs and they were unavailable.  The receptionist stated that I should file a complaint online, which I did that same day.

Ana's arm after the incident with WMATA Police Officers.

A Lieutenant finally called me back on July 19th, I told him the story of the incident and he asked me at the end of the conversation, “What was my complaint? Because the officer could have arrested me, but he instead let me go.”  I asked him for the names of the officers and he said he did not have that information yet.  He stated that I should file a complaint online, which I told him I already did.  He than calls me back and says he is unable to find it.  So he asked me to rewrite it, and send it in or he could come pick it up.  I sent him via mail the complaint and pictures of my bruises on July 19th.

I still have not heard back, and have left messages.  I got in touch with the ACLU and sent them all of my information about the incident.  They interviewed my witnesses and my case, but unfortunately could not help me.

I have seen these officers again as they do work on Friday evenings in Chinatown.

Submitted by Ana on 8/23/2011

Location: Chinatown Metro

Time of harassment: 9:30pm

16 Responses

  1. akestra

    This is terrible! Based on what you’ve written, the officers provided no explanation at all for why you were detained, not even an implausible platitude about “threats to public safety”, an idea offered by an officer weeks later who wasn’t there.

    You should definitely submit this account to Unsuck DC Metro. There are metro employees who regularly read and comment on the issues reported there. http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/

  2. Elizabeth Petro

    Sounds like you’re not making progress the WMATA: I would recommend contacting the Washington Post. A front-page story on police brutality is the sort of thing that will get their attention.

  3. Anonymous

    Wow, that sounds awful and I’m so sorry that happened to you. I am a little unclear, though, on why they were attempting to catch and arrest you. Was it really because your friend’s card demagnetized, or did they think the comment you made was threatening? I am just not sure why they think they have justification for what they did to you.

  4. Anonymous

    You should surreptitiously take pictures of the offending officers and post them here. The public has a right to know when those in power act abusively towards people.

  5. Anonymous

    “police officers have different guidelines than the rest of the population, and that if they feel they that someone is a threat to the general public than they are allowed to put their hands on someone.”

    B freakin’ S. I am not a lawyer or LEO, but your comment was in no way, shape or form justification for their actions. They assaulted you because they felt they could get away with it because of their “position.” The previous commentors are right. Go to the papers because WMATA isn’t going to do squat otherwise. They’re hoping you’ll go away so they can bury this incident.

  6. Anonymous

    The next time you see these officers, you should surreptitiously take their pictures and post it here, along with their names. The riding public has a right to know who the abusers are.

  7. Lyndsey

    Devil’s Advocate: Not saying she is lying, but there is sadly no way to verify that that’s all she said to police to prompt them to pin her to the ground and interrogate her. She could have been more physically threatening or verbally abusive and toned it down for this story. Why didn’t she ask for the surveillance video?

    • Ana

      No, that was not the only thing I said to the police, but that comment is what made them upset. I tried to explain to them about my friends demagnetized card and because of their rudeness and lack of care I made that comment. After the officer assaulted me, I had plenty of other things to say. Yes, I was probably being loud, but in no shape or form did I threaten their life physically or verbally. As far as I am concerned what I said falls under freedom of speech. I was no where near them and never threatened their lives in an way. I was walking away when the officer chose to assault me, and did not run from him when he was coming at me.

      If you know how I can get the surveillance, please advise.
      I hope this answered any questions.

      • agnespower

        Hi Ana,

        I can relate to what you are claiming because I had an incident on Thursday, January 30, 2003 that began with a malfunctioning metro farecard. I boarded at the Farragut West metro station and attempted to exit at Fort the Totten, that’s when my nightmare began.

        To make a long story short, instead of the station attendant assisting me, she instead phoned a Metro police, because, I would later learn, she thought I was trying to evade paying my fare. I was shocked when I learned that.

        Back to my story. The attendant called the officer (Edwards) on the phone. She frantically waved him over when he arrived. I was standing outside the booth patiently waiting for her to get back to me about my card so that I could leave.

        Bottom line, she filled the officer’s head up with some nonsense. He bound down from the booth and approached me in a hostile manner. Although my encounter was not a physical confrontation, I can still relate to your version of events.

        I also wrote the company and filed a complaint. A lieutenant (Lee) investigated. The result? The poorly-trained officer came out smelling like a rose.

        By the way, the station attendant was rude from the very beginning. She seemed annoyed and as if she did not want to be bothered, extended her hand behind her to accept y card, never verbalizing, “May I have your card, please?”

        Other than my explaining to her how I had just purchased my farecard at the Farragut West Metro Station before arriving at Fort Totten, there weren’t many words spoken between us.

  8. cathy

    if you’re a dc resident go to your councilperson. complaining to them seems to be the only way to get accountability from anyone.

    i’m so sorry that this happened to you, and i hope you’re healing physically and emotionally.

  9. cathy

    also, you should consider sharing your story with http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/

  10. DCUnionGuy

    While the story is a bit incomplete, I take this to be a simple situtation where you mouthed off (their perspective, not mine) and you needed to be taught a lesson (again, this is my interpretation of the officers’ attitude, not what I think). So you end up in handcuffs and almost in jail. The part I find most disturbing is it sounds like the female officer was going to attack you. Sadly this is too common w/ police officers: some of them can and will use their authority and the presumption that they’re always in the right, to come after ordinary citizens.

    Start calling around looking for an attorney. Start w/ personal injury types, w/ a focus on anyone who has dealt with either suing WMATA tor police agencies before. On some level I hate to say this, but you need to sue WMATA. Just like corporations, governmental agencies will no change absent the pressure to do so.

  11. […] of people. Is this really any scandal?♦ Transit police can be brutal: Holla Back D.C. offered the account of a woman named Ana yesterday. She wrote about how multiple transit police officers […]

  12. Ana

    I appreciate everyone’s compassion and help. I hope this never happens to anyone.

  13. Golden Silence

    I agree with the other commenters. Please take this to the news. That’ll really get this incident the attention it deserves.

    I am so sorry you had to endure that.

  14. Anonymous

    Wow, I am really shocked by this story. Definitely don’t brush it off – you NEED to get this in the news, press, court, etc! This is the kind of incident that would attract the public and hopefully make some change happen in regards to street harassment in DC, especially with people like the metro police to whom we are supposed to look for for safety, not be scared of them. So I beg you – please take more action. You have the photos of evidence, get surveillance footage, and just make sure you are telling the whole truth and nothing but it. Their behavior is despicable and sadly, this is the perfect platform to start a mini revolution and be heard.