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Metro stabbing victim's family launches wrongful death suit against MTA

September 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The family of the 59-year-old man killed in a stabbing at a Metro Red Line train station has filed a wrongful death suit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Jesse Garay's family say that security on the Metro Red Line is inadequate and that better safety measures could have prevented his death.

"He was a very good son to me. I miss him a lot now," said the vicitm's mother, Janie Garay, at a Friday morning press conference.

Jesse Garay was riding the Red Line Aug. 19 when he got into an altercation with another commuter at the Metro station at Hollywood and Vine.

The altercation sparked a physical fight, and witnesses said Jesse Garay was swinging a chain at the other rider, 33-year-old Gene Sim, who then stabbed Garay.

Sim claimed his action was in self-defense, but Jesse Garay's family said security could have prevented the incident and are calling for justice.

"All I know is I just want justice for the murder of my son," said Janie Garay. "Because he had no right to take his life."

"I don't understand why it happened. I mean, if somebody felt so threatened that they had to take your lfie over bumping into each other or whatever the situation was, I don't know," said the victim's brother, Ray Garay.

Other family members say that when they initially got the call about the incident, they were told it was some kind of medical emergency. They did not know a stabbing had occurred.

"It was a very crowded train. The deputies were there within three minutes after they got called and were probably going down the stairs as the suspect was coming up," said Los Angeles Sheriff's Cmdr. Pat Jordan. "We were only advised -- at first it came out as a medical emergency, and as were going down the stairs, we were advised it was a stabbing, we didn't have a description."

Michael Alder, an attorney for Janie and Ray Garay, says the key issue is personnel and a need for a bigger show of force to deter crime. Alder said after the train conductor notified the sheriff's department of the incident, a deputy should have been on the platform on arrival.

"When you're underground, when you're in essentially a tube, the response time and how the emergency was communicated is something that we're going to learn in the discovery process," said Alder.

The sheriff's department, which is contracted by the MTA to provide security, has eight deputies and eight private security guards who patrol the Metro Red Line. The stabbing incident was the first stabbing death that ever occurred on the Metro Red Line, which opened in 1993.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is also the chairman of the MTA, has called for a review of safety procedures. A report is due next week.

The MTA said they do not comment on pending legal matters.

Meantime, Sim remains in jail on a probation violation. He has a history of arrests, including assault with a deadly weapon. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office is still weighing what charges, if any, should be filed against him.


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