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Roxbury Woman Sues MBTA Over Alleged Police Brutality

BOSTON (CBS) – A 29-year-old Roxbury woman is suing the MBTA, claiming her civil rights were violated after she was allegedly pepper-sprayed and beaten at the Dudley Square bus stop back in March of 2014.

Mary Holmes says she intervened as officers Jennifer Garvey and Alfred Trinh screamed at and shoved an older black woman.

Her attorney, Carlton Williams of the American Civil Liberties Union, says Garvey was following the MBTA motto.

"'See something, say something,' that is exactly what she did. She shouldn't be punished for that, she should be praised," Williams told WBZ-TV.

In MBTA surveillance video Holmes is seen calling 911 for help. She claims that's when Garvey grabbed her and pepper-sprayed as many as three times in the face.

"She tried to de-escalate a situation and she was de-escalating it. She was saying 'You should do what the police say.' If that's a crime I'm not aware of what one is," said Williams.

Transit Police Suit
ACLU Attorney Carlton Williams. (WBZ-TV)

Williams said the Good Samaritan became a criminal as Holmes is seen being taken down by the two officers, hit repeatedly in the shin with a baton, then handcuffed and charged with assault and battery on police officers.

She is suing the MBTA for police brutality and violating her civil rights.

"She was on the phone trying to call police, using her free speech rights and she was stopped by force from doing that," Williams said.

Holmes is seeking compensatory damages for injuries she suffered during the altercation. But more than that, Williams says her trust has been shaken to "say something" again.

"She doesn't feel comfortable in her neighborhood around police," added Williams.

The Roxbury woman is seeking a jury trial for her case.

In a statement, the MBTA said while it doesn't usually comment on pending litigation, "the allegations contained within the complaint are concerning to the Authority."

Officer Garvey has been placed on administrative leave, while Officer Trinh remains active.

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