LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two women were in a downtown Los Angeles subway when one of them was removed from a Metro train for apparently refusing a police officer’s order to take her foot down from a seat.
Since the altercation, both the Los Angeles Police Department and Metro have made statements regarding the situation, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The incident occurred around 3 p.m. Monday on the Metro Red Line when rider Bethany Nava was seen on video being asked by the officer to stand up from her seat. (WARNING: Video contains adult language)
When she refused, the unidentified officer was seen forcibly removing the 18-year-old Nava from her seat and taking her by her arm off the train.
“I am extremely disappointed, our riders deserve better,” Metro CEO Phil Washington said in a statement. “We want the Metro system to be a safe environment for everyone. I expect more from our law enforcement partners. This incident is still under investigation, but I want to be clear: this is not the kind of policing I want on our system.”
Mayor Garcetti also commented on the situation, saying body cameras on the officers will help shed more light on the incident.
“My expectation of the MTA….. is that there will be courtesy from everyone. I expect that from the individuals who ride – I expect that from law enforcement,” Garcetti said. “I know MTA and LAPD has launched an investigation. I also know that videos sometimes tell one picture. We’ll have the videos that officers have – as well as the videos that were made.”
The woman’s mother says she has hired a lawyer.
Upon her removal, Nava was seen yelling and pointing her finger at the sergeant as another woman, who was later identified as Selena Lechuga, 22, approaches and also begins harassing the officer.
After asking Lechuga to back away from the scene, the officer warns her she is “impeding” the investigation and radios for backup.
“I’m not going to leave because I’m going to stand up for my people no matter what,” Lechuga is heard responding to the officer.
Moments later, five additional officers arrived on scene and took both Nava and Lechuga into custody.
During her arrest, Lechuga is heard yelling expletives at the officers and shouting, “This is racism! This is what we are!”
She is also seen on video spitting at one of the officers and arrested on suspicion of battery.
Police later told CBS2 that Nava, who was cited and later released, was being loud and boisterous on the train and had violated the disorderly conduct code under Metro rules.
“The LAPD is responsible for enforcing criminal violations and violations of the MTA’s Code of Conduct to ensure a safe and peaceful transit experience for everyone,” a statement from the LAPD reads in part. “We are committed to doing so in a fair, respectful and professional manner which is the hallmark of the thousands of police officers protecting Los Angeles every day.”
CBS2’s Tom Wait spoke to a couple riders and they were divided.
“Take your feet off the seat, he’s doing his job,” a man said.
“It seems excessive for the crime we’re discussing, now if she had been ya know, smoking crack like I’ve seen other people do on the train, that’s a different story,” a female rider said.
The Los Angeles Metro is patrolled by a multi-agency law enforcement partnership that includes the LAPD, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Long Beach Police Department, as well as Metro’s own security personnel.
Lately, the LAPD has been doing a lot of code of conduct work on the trains. Not putting a foot or feet on a seat in front of you is part of the code of conduct.
The officer is still on the job pending the investigation.