Stop Police Violence Against Metro Passengers

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I have good news. WMATA settled with Diamond Rust on June 4, 2019. You may recall media coverage on Diamond's brutal beating and arrest here.

I was elated to achieve a good result for Diamond but disappointed by the news that I received about two weeks later. On June 22, 2019, WMATA police struck again. This time an officer repeatedly tased an innocent man who was simply inquiring about the safety of a young child that WMATA officers had detained inside the U Street Metro station. Cell phone video of the incident went viral. This man, Tapiwa Musonza, a 28 year old graduate of Howard University, told his story for the first time yesterday to NBC4.

Tapiwa was brutally assaulted by police and charged with Obstruction of Justice, Resisting Arrest and Assaulting a Police Officer. He was held for 3 days without ever being permitted to make a phone call. He was not advised of his charges until hours after he was taken to a holding cell. Officers never read him his Miranda rights. The traumatic injuries he sustained are so severe he had to withdraw from his coursework at MIT.  

I filed suit on September 17, 2019 against the officers involved for the assault and battery of Mr. Musonza and for violations of Mr. Musonza's civil rights, among other claims.

Unfortunately, the WMATA Compact prevents me from suing WMATA in it's own name. Surely, we have a long road ahead before it is determined if Mr. Musonza will get to tell his story to a jury of his peers, but if he does get that far, he faces the prospect of winning only a nominal verdict against the individual officers as opposed to a noteworthy verdict against WMATA.  This must change. 

WMATA is cloaked with sovereign immunity in civil rights cases and because of this protection, there is no true accountability for WMATA officers and no incentive for WMATA to engage with communities of color on a meaningful level. We will continue to hear more of the same. An unruly officer violates a rider's civil rights and keeps his or her job, meanwhile the rider's life is permanently destroyed. And the story continues. Please help us CHANGE THE STORY by signing on to tell our political leaders to amend the WMATA Compact and end sovereign immunity.