DC leaders want answers after video shows Metro police restraining woman

A video captured Metro Transit Police officers restraining a bloodied woman on the platform, and some members of the D.C. council want answers on what happened.

“Incidents like this one are exactly why WMATA needs a civilian-led review board that can investigate and review any incident involving Metro Transit Police officers and the public,” Ward 6 council member Charles Allen said in a statement. “It’s incredibly important to ensure the public can trust that a neutral body is reviewing what happened in a transparent, fast, and fair manner,”

It happened Saturday night on the Red Line platform at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station.

A Metro Transit Police spokesman said the woman was restrained after she allegedly assaulted an officer. Officers approached her after police said she showed erratic behavior and was screaming toward other customers.

In restraining her, she “sustained an injury in the mouth and OC spray was deployed,” the spokesman said.

The woman refused treatment when paramedics arrived, and after determining that she needed mental health services, officers transported her to the hospital for treatment, “including involuntary committal for mental health services,” the spokesman said.

She was not criminally charged.

Metro Transit Police said that a witness at the scene told officers that a man had brandished a  knife when the woman would not move away from him. The witness identified the man, who was arrested on a charge of possession of a prohibited weapon.

A video circulating online — which does not include the assault on the officer, Metro Transit Police said — shows four officers trying to restrain the woman who was on the ground. She had blood on her face.

A woman off-camera can be heard arguing with the officers and telling them, “It does not take four cops to get a 90-pound woman on the ground” and “He threatened to stab her, and she’s on the ground? … He threatened to stab her, and this is what happens?”

Ward 1 council member Brianne K. Nadeau said the incident was “unacceptable,” and she is working to get answers.

At-Large council member Robert White said in a tweet that the video was “disturbing.” He asked all witnesses to call Metro Transit Police, and he will help anyone if they have trouble contacting them.

“There is a clear need for body-worn cameras,” White said.

Last June, Metro’s board of directors approved the formation of a panel that would review investigations conducted by Metro Transit Police. The panel would include law enforcement officials from outside agencies, as well as private citizens.

Before the panel was created, the D.C. Council held a public hearing in November 2019 after several reports of racial profiling incidents. During that hearing, council members expressed difficulty with the idea that Metro Transit Police didn’t have oversight from anyone but Metro.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following video contains graphic language and content.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.

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