Roxbury woman adds MBTA as defendant in civil rights lawsuit

Mary Holmes’s case is pending in US District Court. She accuses two transit officers of brutality and violating her right to free speech.
Mary Holmes’s case is pending in US District Court. She accuses two transit officers of brutality and violating her right to free speech.Carl Williams/ACLU of Massachusetts

A Roxbury woman has named the MBTA as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit she filed last August alleging two transit officers beat her and used pepper spray on her during an altercation two years ago at the Dudley Square station.

Mary Celeste Holmes added the MBTA to her complaint “in hopes of ensuring that no one needs to endure what she did — abuse at the hands of the very officers who have the duty to protect people,” Carl Williams, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts who is representing her, said in a statement.


In her lawsuit, Holmes accuses Transit Officer Alfred Trinh and Jennifer Amyot-Garvey of police brutality and violating Holmes’s right to free speech.

Amyot-Garvey is facing criminal charges in connection with the case and no longer works for the police force.

The MBTA also “allowed a policy or custom to develop” that did not properly supervise, investigate, or discipline officers for infractions, the statement said.

The ACLU and a private attorney, Howard Friedman, are representing Holmes in the case that is pending in US District Court.

“The MBTA has allowed policies or customs to develop within its police department that have caused MBTA police officers to believe they can violate the Constitution with impunity,” Friedman said in the statement released Wednesday.

Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the MBTA, said the agency does not comment on litigation.

“But the safety of all customers is of the highest priority and the Transit Police force works hard to engage constructively with the community to protect the public on MBTA property,” Pesaturo wrote in an e-mail.

According to the complaint, Holmes tried to tell Amyot-Garvey to stop shouting and swearing at another woman at the Dudley Square station in March 2014. Amyot-Garvey continued and shoved the other woman and dragged her along a bench, the complaint states.


Holmes then tried to call 911 to request that more officers come to the station.

Amyot-Garvey and Trinh knocked the phone out of her hand, used pepper spray on her, hit her with a baton, and arrested her, the complaint states.

Charges against Holmes were eventually dropped, but Amyot-Garvey was later indicted for assault and civil rights violations. She has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail. Her next court date is scheduled for June 16.

Nicole Dungca and John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.