A teen who was removed last week by a police sergeant from a Metro subway train spoke publicly for the first time Monday about the altercation.
Video of 18-year-old high school student Bethany Renee Nava's removal, which prompted a use-of-force investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, was caught on camera (Warning: Contains explicit language) and shared through social media. She addressed the events that led up to her removal at a Monday morning news conference with attorneys, who filed a claim Friday against the LAPD, citing excessive use of force.
Nava was earlier asked to remove her foot from a seat on the Red Line train in compliance with Metro's code of conduct. Code of conduct violations, posted at Metro stations, include eating, drinking, vaping, placing feet on seats and littering.
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At a Monday news conference, her attorneys disputed whether she violated the code of conduct.
"She never had her foot on anybody else's seat," said attorney Michael Carillo. "She had her foot on her own seat. When she was told to put her foot down, she did that."
Nava said she was on her way to the North Hollywood station, where she was meeting her mother for a ride to a department of motor vehicles office to get her driver's license. She was taken off the train at the Westlake-MacArthur station.
"I had my foot on my seat," Nava said. "My whole body was facing toward the window so to avoid bothering anybody."
Nava said she initially couldn't hear the officer because she was listening to music on her headphones, but added she eventually removed her foot from the seat.
"I started playing music again, and I put my foot on my right thigh -- and I guess it looked like it was still on the seat," Nava said.
Video of the Jan. 22 altercation showed the sergeant taking her by the arm and as she tried to hang onto a handrail. The situation escalated on the subway platform, where another woman, accused of interfering with police, was arrested after the sergeant requested backup.
"I reacted how I did out of fear and confusion," said Nava.
The Metro system is patrolled by a partnership including Los Angeles police, sheriff's department personnel, Long Beach police and Metro's own security officers.
There was no immediate comment from the city in response to the claim filed by Nava.
The agency's CEO issued a statement last week.
"As Metro continues to work with our partners at the Los Angeles Police Department on the investigation of a young woman being forcibly removed from a Metro subway train yesterday, I want to be clear about my position: We want our Customer Code of Conduct rules enforced, but I'm disappointed at the way the situation escalated," CEO Phillip Washington said. "As a 24-year retired U.S. Army veteran, I understand and respect our police officers and their day-to-day duty in working to keep our system safe and secure. They encounter hundreds of conduct issues each day, and some of them are faced with very difficult situations. But my hope is that we work to de-escalate situations as much as possible."
The LAPD released a statement on Wednesday saying the incident is being thoroughly investigated and that the public should not rush to judgment.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League said the sergeant was enforcing the code of conduct.
"He's told to enforce these rules," said Craig Lally, of the LAPPL. "If somebody doesn't do it, you should take action."
City Councilman Joe Buscaino posted a statement on Twitter expressing support for the officer's actions.
"As an LAPD officer for 15 years, I never went to work looking forward to hauling someone to jail, and always practiced de-escalation," he wrote. "I understand how it can be very easy to put your foot up, especially if you are tired. However, we must show respect to our fellow travelers, and definitely show respect to an authority who is acting in the interest of public safety."