Washington, DC – Metro Transit police are reviewing an incident captured on cell phone video that showed an officer deploying pepper spray at a woman on the Metro Red Line on Tuesday (video below).
The video, which is only 17 seconds long, showed a young woman making a loud fuss at a police officer who was trying to remove her from the subway car.
“Let’s go,” the officer told the woman in the video.
“Fool, stop touching me,” the woman shrieked and then pulled away from him.
The video showed she continued screaming, “Go ahead!”
The officer reached up and sprayed a short burst of pepper spray at the woman and then backed away and exited the train car.
Another passenger who appeared to be with the woman the officer confronted started screaming at him, asking “Why would you do that?”
After he deployed the pepper spray, the video showed he leaned into the radio microphone on his shoulder and informed dispatch “OC utilized.”
The video ended after the Metro Transit Police officer left the train.
“The spray filled the car and we had to evacuate. I’m still coughing and my eyes sting. I hope this young woman is ok,” read the post that accompanied the video posted to Twitter at 3:14 p.m. on Aug. 17.
The woman who shot the video and shared it told The Washington Post that the incident occurred at about 3 p.m. on a Red Line train in the NoMa-Gallaudet station.
“I just saw a large officer manhandling a young girl, so that caused me to start filming,” the Montgomery County woman said via direct message. “I only caught this brief moment before the pepper spray started filling the train car, and I had to leave because I couldn’t breathe.”
She admitted that she had not seen whatever preceded the video that she filmed and that she had headphones on when the altercation started.
“I was concerned because he was yanking her by her arm as her friend tried to plead with him, and she looked young to me,” she told The Washington Post.
She said that the officer eventually took the non-compliant woman off of the train and put her in handcuffs.
But police said the video didn’t tell the whole story about what occurred.
Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Spokeswoman Sherri Ly told The Washington Post in an email that the police officer had already “escorted” the female passenger off another of another subway car at the NoMa-Gallaudet station after she “resisted” him.
Ly said that after she was removed from that train car, the passenger boarded another car and sat down.
“It is important to note that cell phone video often fails to capture the full context of an interaction,” she said.
Ly explained that the officer had “deployed a short burst” of pepper spray “while attempting to gain compliance from an individual who refused multiple directives to exit the train due to her behavior,” according to The Washington Post.
She said the incident would be review by the police department’s commanders as is done with every use-of-force incident.
“When you take into consideration how few people appeared to be on that train and the fact that pepper spray is a less lethal use of force, the officer probably took the most appropriate action under the circumstances, using the least amount of force necessary to take the woman into custody,” a retired Metro Transit police commander told Blue Lives Matter.
Watch the incident unfold in the video