Woman charges T cops beat, pepper sprayed her for complaining about way they were treating another woman

Mary Celeste Holmes of Roxbury charges Transit Police officers violated her civil rights when she complained about the way they were allegedly manhandling an elderly woman at the Dudley T station and they responded by using pepper spray on her, beating her with a baton and smacking her phone out of her hands as she was on the line with 911.

In a suit filed today in US District Court in Boston, her attorneys at the ACLU of Massachusetts are seeking damages for alleged First and Fourth Amendment violations and for false arrest for an incident on March 26 of last year.

According to the complain, Holmes arrived at the station to see a T cop "screaming and swearing at an elderly woman."

Ms. Holmes saw Defendant Garvey suddenly put her hands on Ms. Williams [the elderly woman] and slam her down on a bench.

Concerned about the rough treatment she saw, Holmes first asked Williams to cooperate, but after one of the cops allegedly slammed the woman back down on a bench, she asked the cop doing the slamming to stop "screaming and swearing" at the woman.

In response to this request, Defendant Garvey told Ms. Holmes to "shut the fuck up.”

Concerned that Defendant Garvey's behavior was unsafe and unlawful, Ms. Holmes once again asked her to stop using excessive and unnecessary force.

When Defendant Garvey did not stop, Ms. Holmes asked for the officer's badge number and informed her that she was going to call 9-1-1. Ms. Holmes then made the call. 20. Once Ms. Holmes said that she was going to call 9-1-1, Defendant Garvey began advancing towards her, while screaming and swearing at her. Ms. Holmes backed up, but Defendant Garvey continued to pursue her. 21. Ms. Holmes looked at Defendant Trinh. She told him that she was backing away but that his partner continued to pursue her. She repeated this statement several times.

While backing away, Ms. Holmes was connected to 9-1-1. She informed the responder that her name was Mary Holmes and that she needed officers to come to Dudley Station.

As Ms. Holmes was on the phone to 9-1-1, Defendant Garvey sprayed Ms. Holmes' face with pepper spray.

Defendant Trinh then came over to join Defendant Garvey. The Defendants hit the phone out of her hand, which smashed on the ground and disconnected the 9-1-1 call.

Defendant Garvey pulled out her metal baton and struck Ms. Holmes' shin three to four times while Defendants Garvey and Trinh grabbed and held both of Ms. Holmes' arms.

Defendants Garvey and Trinh kicked her legs out from under her.

Defendants Garvey and Trinh forced Ms. Holmes onto the ground and slammed her head on the curb.

Defendants Garvey and Trinh handcuffed Ms. Holmes' arms behind her back and continued to press her head into the curb until other officers arrived.

In the complaint, Holmes says she required several stitches for her injuries and that she was eventually charged with assault and battery on a public employee and had several visits from the state Department of Children and Families.

Prosecutors declined to go forward with the criminal case and DCF found she was not an unfit parent, the complaint continues.

Because the complaint was filed today, the T has yet to answer it.



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    PDF icon Holmes's comlete complaint.144.9 KB


    Lets go to the tapes

    Hopefully the T still has the footage from their security system to give some idea of what really happened. The audio from the 911 call (until disconnected) would also help clarify the situation.

    The best thing a bystander can do in situations like this is whip out a cell phone with a video camera and quietly record everything you see while staying out of the way.


    By on

    I've been told the T tends to delete their video after a short time (10 days maybe?) so one must get the request in quickly for said video.

    I've been told the T tends to

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    I've been told the T tends to delete their video after a short time (10 days maybe?)

    Based on numerous videos the T has posted in the past, apparently that practice only applies when the video in question is not favorable to them.

    They aren't neutral

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    They are a one-minded hive duality of attack and defense. Fortunately, their target is to defend all of our civil liberties and attack anyone who seeks to abrogate those liberties.

    More excessive force, abuse

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    More excessive force, abuse of power, egos taking over ...too many 'security' and alternate police forces out there hiring a bunch of loser, college drop-outs that want to continue their bullying days from high school.

    I really believe the number of bad cops well outweighs the good ones nowadays

    The officer was a combat veteran.....

    And that does not excuse her behavior, as she has a history of violence towards others and has claimed to have PTSD and this may be a reason for her outbursts (not to excuse the violence here) That being said, I think it is time to reexamine the Civil Service policy of hiring combat veterans as police officers. Veterans deserve jobs, money, help, medical care, etc, but I do not think being a Vet gives you the right to be a police officer over non veterans. The type of work does not really correlate in my opinion.

    It's gotta be worth something

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    On the plus side of the ledger, veterans have had to deal with following orders as part of a chain of command and in the case of combat veterans have had to make life and death decisions in the blink of an eye.

    On the minus side of the ledger, veterans are drilled in how to properly use force as opposed to when and when not to use force, and in the case of combat veterans they have worked in a field where the "enemy" is fair game.

    A degree in sociology should be worth something too.

    But it isn't.

    And use of force in terms of arresting non compliant subjects is different than war engagements by a lot. In fact I think it makes it worse if you are trained for war first.

    If you are an officer in the military police yes, you should get a job over the guy who was a manager at a subway restaurant.

    But yes, I get what your saying, unfortunately being a combat vet puts you at the top of every civil service service list, even if you score below what I think every police officer should be able to score (above a 90) on the exam.

    Pete Nice brings up an

    Pete Nice brings up an interesting point.

    What started as an effort after World War II to help out returning Vets, has proven too frequently to not seriously be looked at.

    With the arrival of cheap digital cameras - both cctv and phone cameras the public is regularly treated to unprofessional, borderline illegal actions by a small subset of police officers.

    Political and Police.leadership needs to step up and start addressing the fortunately small, group of bad actors. Not only does the public suffer, but so do the many police officers who do an admittedly difficult job right.

    Thin Blue Line... of BULLSH!T

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    And we go the videotape... which shows a pair self-important and self-satisfied law enforcement officers not only infringing on the rights of one innocent citizen, but TWO. I can't wait to hear Defendant Officer Jennifer Garvey and Defendant Officer Alfred Trinh (I will NOT allow these cowards to use the cloak of anonymity) try to justify their "reasonable use of force" against Mary Holmes and their first elderly victim. Their abhorrent behavior embarrasses me as a taxpayer, a Bostonian, and most importantly, a human. For shame, you indignant and despicable abusers of power. For shame, MBTA Transit Police. These clowns besmirch and diminish each and every officer who wears the same badge. We must not and will not allow that tin shield on your chest to shield you from justice. Thankfully, those days are gone. ‪#‎imwithmary‬


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    After watching the videos on the ACLU website and reading the complaint there is only one conclusion.
    Ms Holmes is telling the truth and she was brutally beaten.
    She was falsely arrested and all the officers involved along with their supervisors who reviewed the MBTA' video and subjected this poor woman to false arrest and imprisonment need to be fired and criminally charged.

    i can't speak to this- only

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    i can't speak to this- only hoping truth will out- however i have found the t police at dudley to be a nasty surly bitchy unhelpful lot. if you dare ask them a question- like 'where is the dudley #1 bus stop, please?"- they roll their eyes, won't look at you and finally bark out a begrudging response.

    i also love how when they have their random 'violate the riders' 4th amendment rights days' at ashmont ( do they have these at other stops like in , say, newton?) and demand your bag they are as nasty as they wanna be. snot nosed rhymes with picks. and tell me why, considering all the nation wide unrest over communities and the police that serve them, in a majority black neighborhood at a stop that is majority black riders at just about any given time- do they send a troop of bag snatchers that are all white and all male and all ahole?

    strikes me as thoughtless and stupid with no regard for the communities they supposedly serve. no doubt- dorchester has severe long standing problems with violent crime in and around the T but the manner of their policing ain't all that. if someone is threatened by a citizen merely taking their picture, questioning what they are doing, or you know calling the REAL police because things are out of hand, it is questionable whether they should have a gun and any kind of badge.

    One little thing

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    You note that

    in a majority black neighborhood at a stop that is majority black riders at just about any given time- do they send a troop of bag snatchers that are all white and all male and all ahole?

    You do realize that one officer was a non-white male and the other officer was a white female, thus meaning that 0% of the accused are white males, right? The "ahole" percentage, from the look of the bit of the video I saw, is probably spot on in this case.

    The poster you're responding

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    The poster you're responding to, mmmittens, is talking about the transit cops that do bag checks at Ashmont station, and not referring to this case anymore.


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    She is making a statement about the T Police and how they operate. I would say that if her concern is about the patrol staff not looking like the community, Dudley is a better spot than Ashmont to worry about. A Vietnamese guy and a white woman would be just as commonplace as anyone else at Ashmont.

    Perhaps it's my inner white male looking at her post, but something tells me she does not like white males. For course, I could apply a logic that if there T cops in this situation were white males, none of this would have happened. But then again, that would be BS.

    Not that it's anywhere like

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    Not that it's anywhere like Newton, but I've seen them (and gotten searched at them) at Downtown in the afternoons on the red line end of the concourse, although now that you mention it it's been a while (although I don't use that station every day; sometimes I walk to South Station instead). I can't remember if I've ever seen one at Harvard in the morning, but I definitely haven't seen one there in the last couple of years. Although I wouldn't notice in the afternoon, I suppose, since they wouldn't be searching me on the way out.

    I appreciate you

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    Hello Adam G,
    I just wanted to reach out and say thank you. I have witnessed myself being slain again.

    I have no idea who you are or how you obtained the heart behind my move, but your words are the ones that are truest to MY biggest issue: visits from DCF. Allegations of being an unfit parent.

    I was very uneasy reading comments about myself insinuating my "shiftless non productive unless im harassing police, welfare queen" self. Saying I deserved it..... I found myself explaining myself. Your article put me at peace. No matter WHAT is said, it's all good. Somebody gets it, was in a position to and DID share that they saw that as an issue to mention as well.

    Many blessings

    Great response. Sorry to hear

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    Great response. Sorry to hear of your situation and hope those two idiots get in trouble. I too have had unpleasant encounters with transit police. They're on par to the fat, outta shape security guards and possess a hate of their communities. Fight the good fight

    It's unfortunate that the

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    It's unfortunate that the video lacks coverage of the incident that set this event in motion. Perhaps that is something the T should look into. While they're at it, they can feel free to use those homeland security bucks to upgrade their cameras beyond "the Nokia cell I had in 2002" quality.

    I completely understand that in many cases, police officers need to secure an area in which they can complete an arrest of a potentially dangerous suspect. Impeding with a lawful arrest is, and should be, a crime. Was this a dangerous person being arrested, or was it another case of a person being excessively harassed, prompting bystanders to raise their objections. The video evidence here doesn't seem to justify the reaction from the female officer, who absolutely chose to escalate rather than de-escalate the confrontation.

    This is, on its face, embarrassing for the MBTA police--and potentially very expensive. What is even more infuriating than the assault captured on video is the involvement of the DCF, whether intentional or "procedural," as a palpable intimidation tactic against a victim of assault by officers of the law. Oy vey.


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    It appears in the video that she said something to protest, then stepped back to call 911. I would think that would be the appropriate way to handle the situation too...not to impede an arrest but rather to bring it to the attention of others in a non-confrontational way.

    (but then I am just assuming based on soundless video!)

    Heads should Roll

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    This incident happened over a year ago and the MBTA knew on the day the incident took place that the poor woman was beaten and falsely arrested because of their video system. They had the video and they still took this charade to court.
    My question is when the prosecutors watched the video and declined to press charges why didn't they charge the cops with brutality and lying?
    Does anyone know what happened to the elderly lady they roughed up did she get arrested also?


    The videos were really hard to watch but thankfully the assault was documented. I wish Ms. Celeste could rest easy knowing that her attackers will be receiving the punishment they deserve, but our justice system is beyond broken and these pigs will probably only get a slap on the wrist.


    Piece of work

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    So, Garvey is currently on paid leave while all this is going on. She went to the Gillette country music festival and got arrested for disorderly conduct at the concert and also got rung up for resisting. Then while in the holding cell, she assaulted another woman in there.

    You have to be pretty stupid to get arrested (twice in one day) for your belligerence when you're already on paid leave for being belligerent in a domestic situation while simultaneously being sued for being too belligerent on the job.

    How much more due process before we're able to make it unpaid leave?


    Read the Complaint

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    Can anyone explain why Mary Holmes wasn't given her rights to a phone call? I really can't fathom the logic behind calling DCF on her while she was in the hospital and interviewing her children.