Metro passenger files claim, speaks out about removal from Red Line train by LAPD officer

BySid Garcia and staff KABC logo
Monday, January 29, 2018
Metro passenger files excessive-force claim against LAPD
A woman has filed an excessive-use-of-force claim against the Los Angeles Police Department after being dragged off the subway car by an LAPD officer.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An 18-year-old woman has filed an excessive force claim against the Los Angeles Police Department after she allegedly refused to remove her foot from a Metro Red Line train and was dragged off the subway car by an LAPD officer.

Bethany Nava spoke at a press conference Monday morning at her attorney's office in South Pasadena. The performing arts high school student insisted that the filing of the claim was not a publicity stunt. Nava, who is studying to become an actress, said the attention in the aftermath of the Jan. 22 incident was, in fact, harmful to her career.

A witness's cellphone video of the confrontation has gone viral in the past week. The footage shows an LAPD sergeant pulling on the woman's right arm with both hands at the Westlake/Macarthur Park station.

At the press conference on Monday, Nava wore a black brace on her right wrist, and her forearm was wrapped in an elastic bandage. She said that before the encounter turned physical, she obeyed when the sergeant asked her to remove her foot from the subway seat.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stopped by the ABC7 studio Wednesday and discussed the Red Line incident and more.

"I just want to say that I reacted how I did out of fear and confusion," an emotional Nava said, flanked by her attorney and her mother. "I've never been in trouble with the law before.

"I didn't resist when they put the handcuffs on me," she continued. "I just subdued. I'd given up because, you know, there was no point in fighting."

Twenty-two-year-old Selena Lechuga, a bystander who was seen spitting on the officer on the subway platform, was also arrested in the incident.

In a Wednesday interview with ABC7, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he would not "prejudge" the matter.

"What I would ask everybody is that let's all be civil in our interactions," the chief said.

The chief acknowledged that some parts of the video concerned him, but he also noted that the sergeant involved in the situation has been on the force for 20 years and has almost no use-of-force history.

"We owe him an unbiased investigation, that is more than just watching a snippet of video and making a judgment," Beck said, emphasizing that during the incident, the sergeant was spat on by a bystander.

Nava and Lechuga are each scheduled to appear in court next month.