Bethany Nava, High School Student Dragged Off Train, Sues LAPD for Excessive Force
‘I feel like my rights were violated. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anybody else.’
The high-school student was on her way home from school to get her new ID when she was forcibly removed, handcuffed and arrested for putting her feet on a subway seat.
Eighteen-year-old Bethany Nava filed a notice of claim against the LAPD for excessive force after she says she was “forcibly removed” from a train by Sgt. Hutchings, identified in her filing only by his last name, for taking up multiple seats on the city’s Metro on Jan. 22.
“I feel like my rights were violated. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Nava said in a press conference on Monday. A video of Nava’s altercation with Hutchins has been viewed over 13 million views times on Facebook.
In the video, Hutchings tells Nava to get out of her seat, and she asks him why and then calls him an “asshole.” The officer then grabs her and drags her off the train.
Nava, who wore a brace on her right wrist during Monday’s press conference, says she had a panic attack during the altercation.
Nava’s lawyer, Michael Carrillo, told The Daily Beast that Nava was detained, handcuffed, cited, and then released to her mother at the train station.
“Nobody’s reached out to us. Nobody has said anything. The only thing LAPD has released is that statement from last week, where they try to accuse her of violating the Code of Conduct, which is false,” said Carrillo.
In that statement, the LAPD said it was too soon to comment on the details of the investigation. “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. We are committed to doing so in a fair, respectful and professional manner.”
The Los Angeles Metro’s Code of Conduct cites putting your feet on a seat as disorderly conduct that is punishable by a possible removal, a fine, and a citation. The Code makes an exception for minors. Nava recently turned 18.
“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,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in an interview last week, in which he also suggested that body cameras could provide clarity on such incidents.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in an interview last week that he would not "prejudge" the matter, and said that while parts of the video concerned him that the officer was owed “an unbiased investigation, that is more than just watching a snippet of video and making a judgment."