Elderly woman forced off Metrorail explores legal action
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The 82-year-old woman who was dragged off the Metrorail train for singing too loudly has hired an attorney to explore her legal action.
Attorney Al Carbonell sent a letter to county officials Friday in which he said his client, Emma Anderson, is happy Miami-Dade Mayor Tomas Gimenez apologized to her for the incident, which was captured on another passenger's cell phone video.
According to the letter, what Anderson and her family are seeking now is an explanation concerning the harsh treatment she experienced at the hands of a security guard.
On Feb. 20, Anderson was singing church hymns while riding the Metrorail to the Brownsville station when she was approached by the guard and asked to leave the train.
A tug of war ensued between them as the guard began to drag the senior citizen off the train by her bag's handle while she pulled on it in the opposite direction to no avail. The guard yanked on the bag with such force that Anderson fell on the Brickell station platform and then cried for help.
"I think it was completely inappropriate," said Michael Remy, the rider who shot the cell phone video of the incident, about the guard's behavior. "There was no need for him to grab her like that and take her off the train. It could have been handled completely differently."
Carbonell said he is unsure what the intentions of this security officer were, but he knows they just weren't right. "There has to be some common sense. Things have to be put into context. I don't see how it was at all acceptable under the context of what was going on. Grabbing a little old lady, trying to take her goods, her rolling suitcase that she was trying to hold on to. It should have been handled a different way. We are also trying to investigate 50 State Security to see if they have had issues before," said Carbonell, referring to the contractor that hired the security guard involved in the incident.
Carbonell revealed that Anderson fractured her hip and hurt her arm when she fell to the ground, a more severe injury that had previously been reported as a bruised shoulder. "Our understanding is that elderly people or mentally disabled people shouldn't be thrown off buses or [other] public transportation, because that exposes them to additional harm," he said.
The attorney is now asking Miami-Dade Transit Authority to show him the Metrorail code of conduct and any rules governing interaction between security officers and the elderly. Mayor Gimenez, who issued an apology Thursday, said the situation went too far. "She wasn't treated with the dignity and respect from our employees or our contractors," he said.
According to the transit department, the security officer was just following the rules. They say there is no singing or using of instruments allowed aboard the trains and that the officer was just enforcing those rules.
50 State Security says the incident is currently under investigation and the officer is still an employee but he has been re-assigned to a different station. Gimenez said he would follow up with the contractor about implementing sensitivity training for its employees. "People who are elderly or have special need to be treated a certain way," he said.
Anderson, a woman of faith, believes justice will come someday. "Well, y'all may call it 'noise,' but wait till Jesus comes. It's going to be more noise in there," she said.
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