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Former Transit Police officer charged in assault

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Former MBTA officer Jennifer Amyot-Garvey allegedly attacked a woman she arrested at Dudley Square Station.
Former MBTA officer Jennifer Amyot-Garvey allegedly attacked a woman she arrested at Dudley Square Station.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe/Pool

A former MBTA Transit Police officer has been indicted on assault and civil rights violations charges for a 2014 incident in which she allegedly attacked a woman she was arresting at Dudley Square Station.

Jennifer Amyot-Garvey is to be arraigned Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, civil rights violations with injury, and two counts of filing a false report by a public employee.

Amyot-Garvey was indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury last month after an investigation by the Suffolk district attorney's office that was sparked by a civil lawsuit filed by Mary Celeste Holmes with the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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In the lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Boston in August, Holmes alleged that Amyot-Garvey pepper-sprayed her after Holmes told Amyot-Garvey to stop yelling at another woman at Dudley Square Station in Roxbury on March 26, 2014.

Holmes, in court papers, said that she asked Amyot-Garvey for her badge number and tried to call 911 to get more police officers to the scene when her phone was knocked out of her hand. Holmes said Amyot-Garvey doused her with pepper spray, hit her with a baton, and then arrested her.

Prosecutors dropped the charges against Holmes four months later.

A second Transit Police officer, Alfred Trinh, participated in Holmes's arrest, and is also being sued by Holmes. In court papers, Trinh and Amyot-Garvey have denied they violated Holmes's First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.

Video released of the incident appeared to show the officers struggling with Holmes and Amyot-Garvey swinging her baton at Holmes.

An attorney for Amyot-Garvey could not be reached for comment.

"We allege that the use of force in this case was unnecessary, excessive, and violated the victim's civil rights. She was assaulted, arrested, and wrongly charged. ... The vast majority of police officers in Boston and Suffolk County use their authority to protect the public and serve the community, but when the use of force rises to criminal conduct it must be charged and prosecuted," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement.

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Trinh took no part in Amyot-Garvey's alleged crimes and cooperated with the investigation, said the Suffolk district attorney's spokesman Jake Wark. Trinh is not facing charges and remains on active duty, officials said.

Mary Holmes, a Roxbury resident, accused the MBTA Transit Police of violating her civil rights by assaulting her after she attempted to report their aggressive behavior.
Mary Holmes, a Roxbury resident, accused the MBTA Transit Police of violating her civil rights by assaulting her after she attempted to report their aggressive behavior.Carl Williams

Jessie L. Rossman and Carl Williams, two ACLU attorneys representing Holmes, applauded prosecutors for bringing charges. They also said Holmes should be credited for her decision to stand up to police.

"The fact that it has gone from a civilian facing criminal charges to a police officer facing criminal charges is a credit to Mary Holmes and all those who are standing up to hold police officers accountable for their actions,'' Rossman said.

The attorneys also suggested that officials should look more deeply into Trinh's actions, saying that the video appears to show him restraining Holmes while she is being hit by Amyot-Garvey.

"The person who is holding someone who is being hit clearly would be responsible for the harm they caused,'' Carl Williams said.

Both Amyot-Garvey and Trinh were exonerated after an internal affairs investigation by the Transit Police in 2014. But Superintendent Richard Sullivan, a Transit Police spokesman, said Thursday the department had reopened its inquiry in the wake of the lawsuit.

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"Transit Police are committed to be transparent, responsible and accountable to those we serve daily,'' Sullivan said.

Sullivan said his department had cooperated with Suffolk prosecutors during the investigation that led to the charges against Amyot-Garvey.

Amyot-Garvey was fired by the department on Dec. 28, but not for her alleged role in the assault on Holmes. Instead, Sullivan said, she was fired after being arrested for allegedly brandishing a weapon at her wife, Transit Police Officer Ann Garvey, in their Wilmington home a year ago.

Amyot-Garvey has pleaded not guilty in that Woburn District Court case.

Separately, Amyot-Garvey is being prosecuted in Wrentham District Court for assault and battery and disorderly conduct after she allegedly punched a woman while she was in a temporary holding cell at Gillette Stadium. She was scheduled to appear in the Wrentham courthouse Thursday. She has pleaded not guilty.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe-.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.