On November 10, 2016, RyeKeisha Jeffers, filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that Maryland Transit Administration (“MTA”), Police Officers Raquel Bailey-Harrison and Neisha L. Brown, unlawfully arrested her on April 19, 2013, because her cell phone ringer was too loud and because she asked to speak with a supervisor. After unlawfully arresting Ms. Jeffers, she alleges that the Police Officers took her to the restroom, were they physically accosted her. Jeffers was subsequently charged with the proverbial ” [R]esisting Arrests”, Disorderly Conduct and Failure to Obey the Lawful Order of Law Enforcement. On September 13, 2013, the charges were subsequently dismissed.
According to the Complaint, the facts of the incident are as follows:
Jeffers was seated on the subway platform of the Rogers Station in Baltimore City, with her ear phones on listening to music on her cell phone. Jeffers’ cell phone began to ring indicating she was receiving a text message. Jeffers ring tone was a popular song that plays until she completes a response to the text message.
Jeffers proceeded to respond to the text message when she noticed Defendant Harrison-Bailey standing directly in front of her. Jeffers removed one of the ear pieces and asked the Defendant if she could help her. Defendant Harrison-Bailey, said it was against the law to play music without head phones and there was signage stating as much. Jeffers indicated that she was not playing music, her phone was actually ringing.
Jeffers further advised that she was within the limits of the law as she was wearing head phones. Defendant Harrison-Bailey insisted that Jeffers turn off her phone. Jeffers declined and requested that Defendant Harrison-Bailey, call a supervisor. Defendant Harrison-Bailey declined to do so. Jeffers called 911 and reported the harassing conduct of Defendant Harrison-Bailey. Defendant Harrison-Bailey proceeded to place Jeffers under arrest by grabbing her by her sweatshirt hoody and twisting it around her neck. Subsequently, Defendant Brown arrived and aided Defendant Harrison-Bailey with the unlawful arrest of Jeffers.
After being placed in custody, Jeffers clothing was in disarray and her breast and stomach were exposed. Jeffers requested the Defendants’ to fix her clothing before removing her from the subway platform. Defendants’ refused and walked Jeffers thru the station with her private areas exposed to the general public. Three (3) female officers, including the Defendants’, escorted Jeffers to the bathroom to apparently fix her clothing, which merely needed to be pulled down to cover her private areas. Defendants’ pushed Plaintiff thru the turnstile took her into the women’s bathroom and accosted her, first by tripping her to the floor, punching her in the face and back of the neck and head, stomping and jumping on her leg and ankle. Jeffers was subsequently criminally charged with, Disorderly Conduct, Failure to Obey Lawful Order of Law Enforcement Officer and Resisting Arrest. On September 16, 2013, the case went to trial in the District Court for Baltimore City. The State entered a Nolle Prosequi on the docket.
According to its website, the:
The MTA Police Force is committed to helping everyone feel safe and at ease when they ride public transportation. It is a mission that the Maryland Transit Administration Police Force takes on every day of the year, with dignity and respect for all. Statistics confirm the depth of that commitment. Incidents of crime are consistently lower in and around MTA stops, stations and local communities where MTA Police are on patrol. In addition to protecting our riders and vehicle operators, MTA Police are responsible for enforcing the law and assuring the security of MTA property and revenue.
It is doubtful that arresting a nurse because her cell phone ringer appears to be loud and subsequently, beating her to a proverbial pulp, allegedly; dovetails the MTA’s statement of “protecting our riders and vehicle operators“. The conduct, if proven true, is outrageous.
The foregoing is akin to the Department of Justices’ (“DOJ”), recent investigative report of the Baltimore City Police Department (“BPD”), treatment of the public. Specifically, the DOJ found:
BPD engages in a pattern or practice of:
(1) making unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests;
(2) using enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of
stops, searches and arrests of African Americans;
(3) using excessive force; and
(4) retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally-protected expression.
This pattern or practice is driven by systemic deficiencies in BPD’s policies, training,
supervision, and accountability structures that fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police
effectively and within the bounds of the federal law.
It is worth mentioning that the MTA Police, is headquartered in Baltimore and follows the same procedures as the BPD.