Demand Justice for Woman Pepper-Sprayed and Beaten by Public Transit Police

MBTA officer misconduct CARL WILLIAMS

Target: Daniel F. Conley, Suffolk County District Attorney

Goal: Bring reform and accountability to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority with regards to incidents of officer misconduct and brutality.

Mary Holmes of Roxbury, Massachusetts was allegedly pepper-sprayed and beaten by two public transit officers after calling 911 to report what she claims was abuse of another commuter. Following this incident, Holmes moved forward with a lawsuit against the officers which now also lists the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) as a defendant. Holmes alleges that previous examples of misconduct by Officer Jennifer Garvey, who has already been indicted on the charges pressed against her by Holmes, were essentially ignored by the MBTA. By failing to properly supervise the officer, the MBTA allowed a culture of abuse and brutality to fester in its ranks. The MBTA must be held accountable and bring reform to its handling of officer misconduct.

Holmes’ lawsuit, which is being handled by the American Civil Liberties Union, claims that the MBTA did not properly screen Officer Garvey before hiring her. Garvey was bypassed for a position with the Worcester Police Department and was also arrested for assault and battery in 2005. After making a misguided decision to hire Garvey, the MBTA then failed to follow through on formal civil complaints made against the officer. These complaints included incidences of assault, aggression, excessive force, unprofessional conduct, and harassment. Along with these formal civil complaints, Garvey’s record also includes administrative complaints for failure to report and insubordination. It was only after Garvey was arrested for assaulting her wife with a firearm that the MBTA placed her on administrative leave before eventually firing her later in the year. This was nearly two years after the initial incident with Ms. Holmes.

The MBTA’s incompetence with regards to the misconduct of Officer Jennifer Garvey should not be taken lightly. Allowing officers like Garvey to get away with excessive force, harassment, and other abuses of power sends a dangerous message to other officers that they can disregard the constitutional rights of commuters with impunity. The MBTA must be brought to justice and reform its handling of officer misconduct. By signing the petition below, you can help urge Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley to hold the MBTA accountable for its mishandling of officer misconduct

PETITION LETTER:

Dear District Attorney Conley,

The MBTA has failed to properly screen and supervise its officers with disastrous results. This was made clear by the alleged pepper-spraying and beating of Mary Holmes at the hands of two MBTA officers. The fact that one of these officers had repeatedly been cited in formal civil complaints for instances of assault, aggression, excessive force, and harassment with no follow-up on the part of the MBTA is certainly disturbing. The MBTA needs to be held accountable for its mishandling of officer misconduct.

Allowing MBTA officers to violate the constitutional rights of commuters is a serious offense. The MBTA did just that, sending a message to its officers that abusing and attacking commuters was acceptable behavior. The MBTA must be brought to justice. I urge you to hold it accountable for mishandling officer misconduct and to help bring about meaningful reform in the organization.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Carl Williams

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