Maryland jury finds FBI agent who shot man inside Red Line train not guilty

An FBI agent accused of attempted murder inside a Metrorail train in Maryland has been found not guilty.

A jury in Montgomery County found Eduardo Valdivia not guilty on Friday. He was accused of shooting another passenger twice inside a Red Line train near the Medical Center station in Bethesda back in December 2020.

Passenger Steven Slaughter survived the shooting.

Valdivia’s defense team were teary-eyed as the verdict was read, and defense attorney Robert Bonsib said that Valdivia should never have been put in this position.

“All he wanted to do that day was go to work, come home and be with his family” on Dec. 15, 2020, when Slaughter, who was panhandling, approached Valdivia on the train. The two exchanged words, after which, Valdivia shot Slaughter, striking him in the abdomen and in the arm.

Bonsib said that Slaughter was an “absolutely deadly threat” and Valdivia was trying to save his life. “It was 100% self-defense,” Bonsib said.

The prosecution argued that the FBI agent was “trying to shoot his way out” of the situation. Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said that he was disappointed with the verdict but respected the jury’s decision.

“This was not an easy case,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said that the video of the incident showed that Valdivia and Slaughter had contact twice, that Slaughter was unarmed and never touched Valdivia.

Although the video had no sound, the defense was able to fill in some of the pieces, including Slaughter acknowledging saying he was going to “throw you to the wall” to Valdivia, Bonsib said.

“It befuddles me today to understand why (Valdivia) had to go through this for two years,” Bonsib said.

McCarthy said the jury was entitled to hear the evidence and to decide whether Valdivia’s actions were a reasonable course of action and protected by law.

Bonsib said the jury agreed that Slaughter was the aggressor, which was what the defense argued, pointing to Slaughter’s criminal history, as well as presenting Valdivia’s character to the jury.

“We thought they needed to hear from Mr. Valdivia. He’s measured; he’s low-key. You can’t pick that up unless you get the opportunity to hear him in court,” Bonsib said. In contrast, the last thing in the world the prosecutor wanted this jury to see, Bonsib said, was the “face and demeanor of Slaughter” and his history of “constant criminality.”

Valdivia faced charges of second-degree attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and felony use of a firearm, with a sentence of up to 65 years in prison.

WTOP’s Dimitri Sotis and Kate Ryan, who reported from Montgomery County, contributed to this report. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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