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Metrorail passengers got an eye full recently when they saw three security guards hoisting a woman off a bench at the Government Center station in Miami, lifting and slamming her to the ground, and pinning her down as people cried out, “That could be your mother, man!”
One of the passengers filmed the exchange between the woman and the guards — employees of U.S. Security Associates, the Georgia-based firm that Miami-Dade County contracts with to provide security for the Metrorail system. The guards are no longer providing security for Miami-Dade County.
The confrontation appeared to be related to whether the woman had a valid pass to be on the train platform.
In the two-minute video, the guards can be seen lifting the woman off the bench, body slamming her to the ground, and pinning her down on the platform’s tiled floor. She’s wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt.
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Passengers scream, “Stop that! Hey, that’s a lady!”
Two of the guards flip the woman over and forcibly hold her arms down above her head. After a minute or so, they get off of her and she appears to be sitting with her arms behind her back.
“I got you on video, don’t worry,” a voice calls out, presumably from the person filming the incident. At that point, a third guard appears to walk toward a waiting train on the tracks. He seems to be telling the person who is shooting the video to let the doors close.
“You want to come in or you want to come out? The train’s closing,” the guard says.
The clip ends as the train’s doors slide shut.
“Just witnessed this total injustice on Miami Dade Metrorail tonight. This lady was treated like an animal for the simple act of talking back to these wanna be cop/guards over a ticket scanning issue,” rider Ingrid Love posted on her Facebook page as share text to her video on Feb. 11, the night of the incident.
Love, who did not respond to a Miami Herald inquiry on Friday, vowed to spread the word.
“I’m totally saddened and disgusted. You see this stuff on TV but to witness it firsthand is another matter,” she wrote on the video post.
The video has since been shared 47 times and has nearly 2,000 views.
“After I got over the initial shock of what I saw, the next thing that came to mind was Ben Crump,” Love wrote in the comments section of her post. Crump refers to Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who represented the family of Trayvon Martin after the Florida teenager was killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford in Central Florida in 2011.
Crump also represented Kamilah Campbell, a high school senior at Michael Krop High who had been accused by SAT officials of cheating because her scores jumped beyond the norm on her second attempt at the test.
“I hate to sound like I’m playing the race card but had this been a middle-age white woman trying to get home from work who had a little dispute about a $2.25 fare, it wouldn’t have ended this way,” Love wrote on Facebook. “We need someone who can shine a bright light on these kind of injustice. I’ll be making many phone calls and other communications today. This kind of garbage cannot stand!!”
On Friday, Karla Damian, spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works department, said the guards are gone and the county was sorry.
“First and foremost, the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works would like to express its sincere apologies to our rider and her family for the incident that occurred. It has been made very clear to county employees, and contracted employees, that our residents and visitors are to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. The guards involved in the incident have been permanently removed from DTPW’s security contract.”
In 2014, U.S. Security Associates won a $13 million-a-year contract to provide security for the county’s transit system.
The Miami Herald reached out to U.S. Security Associates by phone and to Timothy Morris, its regional manager by email, but did not get a response as to whether the men, who were not named, are still employed by the security firm.
The woman who was roughed up by the guards on the platform was not arrested or charged with anything.
“The patron was released,” Damian said.