Civil Rights Suit Accuses MBTA of Not Stopping Former Transit Officer
On Thursday, the MBTA was added as a defendant in a federal civil rights suit that claims the agency failed to adequately supervise and discipline its transit officers.
According to Boston.com, the MBTA is being taken to task for knowingly hiring former transit police officer Jennifer Amyot-Garvey, despite her tumultuous past, and for ignoring a number of complaints over her behavior.
In January, Amyot-Garvey plead not guilty to charges of causing injury while violating a person’s civil rights, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and two counts of filing a false report. The charges were related to a 2014 altercation where she allegedly beat a Roxbury woman at Dudley station.
Only Amyot-Garvey and Alfred Trinh, another officer who was involved in the incident, were named in the suit, which was filed on the behalf of Mary Holmes by the American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights attorney Howard Friedman. Holmes says she witnessed Amyot-Garvey and Trinh attacking a woman at Dudley station and tried to get them to stop, only to have Amyot-Garvey slap her phone out of her hand, hit her with a baton, and knock her to the ground. She was arrested and stayed overnight in jail, then was exonerated four months later after prosecutors saw video footage of what had happened. The incident occurred in March of 2014, but an internal investigation by the MBTA cleared the two officers. Amyot-Garvey was fired by the MBTA in December for reasons unrelated to the Holmes incident.
“These policies and customs allowed MBTA police officers to believe they could violate the constitutional rights of civilians like Ms. Holmes with impunity,” the suit said, according to Boston.com.
The complaint claims that the MBTA offered Amyot-Garvey employment in 2008 despite officials having been aware that she was turned down by the Worcester Police Department as well as by a department in another state. The suit also alleges that the agency knew about Amyot-Garvey’s prior arrest for assault and battery.
In addition to her issues prior to being hired by the MBTA, the complaint says that the agency failed to properly supervise or discipline Amyot-Garvey, even though she had set off the MBTA’s early warning system a dozen times.
Amyot-Garvey hasn’t been able to stay out of trouble since the 2014 incident.
According to the Boston Globe, Garvey was arrested on charges of assault and resisting arrest at a country music concert at Gillette Stadium last year.