Los Angeles, CA – A woman who refused to comply with a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sergeant’s request to remove her foot from a train seat has filed an excessive force claim against the department, she announced on Monday (video below).
Aspiring actress Bethany Nava, 18, claimed that a viral video of her being removed from the Metro Red Line train on Jan. 22 has negatively affected her career as a future actress, KABC reported.
According to the Los Angeles Times, her claim also accused the sergeant of false imprisonment, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of her civil rights.
In demonstration of her acting ability, Nava wore a black wrist brace and had her forearm wrapped in a bandage during the Monday press conference, which she attended with her mother and her attorney, KABC reported.
“I’m an American citizen and I feel that my rights were violated,” she said, according to KTLA. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. That nobody else targets young girls just trying to go home from school.”
In the video of the incident she had said that she was on her way to get an ID and that she was going to work.
“I’ve always looked to the police as my protectors, as somebody who could keep me safe,” she continued. “Now I can say I’m deeply afraid of them, I’m afraid to get on the Metro.”
“I just want to say that I reacted how I did out of fear and confusion,” Nava said, according to KABC. “I’ve never been in trouble with the law before.”
The performing arts high school student also said that the claim was not a publicity stunt, KABC reported.
Nava claimed that when the LAPD sergeant asked her to move her feet, she complied.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Nava said that she initially did not hear the sergeant’s directive.
“He snapped in my face to get my attention,” she said. “Then I paused the music, turned toward him and he said ‘put your foot down’ and I did … and he walked away.”
Nava said she then placed her foot on her thigh.
“I guess it looked like it was still on the seat, but it wasn’t,” she said, according to KTLA.
The sergeant returned, and told her again to put her foot down or she would be arrested, she said.
She claimed she immediately put both feet on the floor.
But Nava’s claims at her press conference not what was captured in a video of the incident, filmed by another passenger, which went viral right after the altercation occurred.
Her press conference face-tears were a far different reaction than the vulgar and confrontational antics Nava displayed at the time the incident actually occurred.
“This is not f******king fair that you took me off the train because I had my foot there because I was comfortable like that!” Nava yelled, in the video, while pointing her finger at the sergeant. “There is no law that tells me that I cannot sit that way because I paid to be in there!”
But according to the Metro Customer Code of Conduct, “placing feet or shoes on seats or furnishings” is a violation of train rules. And anybody riding the train must comply with orders from officials on the train. Violating the rules may get a person “immediately ejected.”
Nava claimed she asked him why he was arresting her, and that the sergeant told her that “there doesn’t need to be a law,” according to KABC.
She said she was then pulled off of the train.
“I didn’t resist when they put the handcuffs on me,” she said, failing to mention that she was not even handcuffed until several minutes after the altercation began. “I’d given up because, you know, there was no point in fighting.”
But the video showed the argumentative teen immediately resisted the sergeant’s efforts to escort her from her seat, at which point he grabbed her by her arm and began pulling her towards the doorway of the train.
“I paid to be on this train, a**hole!” Nava argued as she pulled away. “Stop!”
The video showed she then grabbed onto a pole as the sergeant pulled her other arm through the doorway.
The sergeant was able to remove her, and pressed her against a wall in the terminal. A crowd formed as he waited for backup, creating a dangerous situation for the sergeant.
“Are you f******king kidding me right now?” said a previously uninvolved woman, later identified as 22-year-old Selina Lechuga.
“Give me some space, guys,” the lone sergeant said to the gathering crowd.
“Come on. You think you can do this?” Lechuga asked him. “Yeah, of course you can, f******king a**hole.”
The sergeant repeatedly told Lechuga to back away, but she continued to respond with defiance and obscenities, and accused the officer of being a racist.
“This is racism!” she declared. “This is what we are! 2018, motherf******kers like this wanna just try to act like they can do whatever they f**k they want. F**k you guys.”
When backup arrived, officers arrested both Nava and Lechuga.
According to KTLA, Nava was arrested on suspicion of being loud and boisterous on a train, and was released.
In the video, Lechuga could be seen spitting in an officer’s face.
Lechuga was arrested for suspicion of battery on a police officer for spitting on the officer.
“You feel good? F**king piece of s**t,” she said to one of the officers, just before she spit on him. “F**k you!”
Her bail was set at $20,000.
On Friday, Lechuga held a press conference of her own, and claimed that she was the victim of “racial discrimination, violence against women, and police brutality.”
The press conference started with an introduction comparing her to Rodney King.
It didn’t appear that Lechuga had consulted with a competent attorney prior to her press conference.
She claimed that officers made up laws and violated non-existent rights. She also made questionable claims, such as being denied water for 24 hours.
Lechuga demanded free metro rides for everybody, the end of law enforcement on trains, and the end of “racist” codes of conduct.
Then she called for her charges to be dropped for doing nothing more than riding the train. She failed to mention assaulting a law enforcement officer, which was captured on video.
The video of the incident, posted on Facebook by Brock Bryan, had been viewed more than thirteen million times as of Monday afternoon, with numerous commenters making death threats targeted at the officers.
“The sergeant involved in this is a 20-plus year veteran with almost no use of force history, and we owe him an unbiased investigation that is more than just watching a snippet of video and making a judgement,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told KABC on Wednesday.
“Let’s all be civil,” Chief Beck added. “If an officer asks you to do something, please do it. And for my officers also, let’s be reasonable about the use of force we use.”
The chief explained that LAPD officers are on the trains as part of a contract with the Metro system.
Nava and Lechuga are both scheduled to appear in court in February, KABC reported.
An internal investigation is ongoing, Chief Beck confirmed.
Watch the LAPD sergeant’s altercation with Nava and Lechuga in the video below: