Roxbury resident Mary Holmes sues MBTA police officers for police brutality and violation of her constitutional rights
BOSTON — Roxbury resident Mary Holmes filed a civil rights lawsuit today against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. With the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Howard Friedman as her counsel, Ms. Holmes seeks to hold MBTA Police Officers Jennifer Garvey (then Jennifer Amyot) and Alfred Trinh responsible for police brutality and the violation of her constitutional right to free speech. In the lawsuit, Holmes details being pepper-sprayed, beaten and arrested by the officers because she spoke out to prevent MBTA police from abusing a person in her community.
According to the complaint, in March 2014 Ms. Holmes was at the Dudley Square MBTA station in Roxbury when she saw Officer Garvey scream at and shove an older Black woman. The situation worried Ms. Holmes, so she tried to calm the woman and asked Officer Garvey to stop being so aggressive. When these efforts failed, she called 9-1-1 for help. In response Officer Garvey and her partner, Officer Trinh, pepper-sprayed Ms. Holmes in the face, beat her with a metal baton, and arrested her, handcuffing her hands behind her back while forcing her to the ground.
“This suit is about justice for Mary Holmes, who had the courage to stand up for her rights and the rights of those around her,” said Friedman. “It is also about addressing a fundamental unfairness that exists in the way Black and brown communities are policed. Individuals should not be hurt by the very people meant to protect and serve the community.”
“The MBTA has signs everywhere telling people ‘if you see something, say something.’ This is exactly what Ms. Holmes did. She saw something wrong, and she spoke out. We need more people to follow Ms. Holmes’ lead and do the same,” said Jessie Rossman, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Unfortunately, the officers’ reactions are part of a broader, troubling trend, in which police officers mistreat individuals exercising their constitutional rights. It has to stop.”
“Given the national and local conversation on racial justice and police accountability, Ms. Holmes and the ACLU hope that this lawsuit gives voice to one woman’s story of police violence and survival. We hope that this case will bring some justice and closure for Ms. Holmes, and that it will help bring fundamental changes to the way Roxbury and communities throughout Massachusetts are policed,” said Carl Williams, staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts.
For a copy of Holmes’ complaint and video of the incident, go to:
For more information about the ACLU of Massachusetts, go to:
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The Latest in Criminal Law Reform
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About Criminal Law Reform
The Criminal Law Reform Project seeks to end harsh policies and racial inequities in the criminal justice system.