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MBTA settles with Roxbury woman in police brutality case

 Mary Holmes says two officers beat her after she tried to talk one out of shoving and ‘screaming and swearing at a woman.
Mary Holmes says two officers beat her after she tried to talk one out of shoving and ‘screaming and swearing at a woman.(Carl Williams/ACLU of Massachusetts)

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has reached a settlement with a Roxbury woman who sued it and two transit officers, alleging police brutality.

Mary Holmes sued the officers in 2015 in US District Court in Massachusetts and added the MBTA as a defendant a year later.

She claimed officers Jennifer Garvey and Alfred Trinh beat her at the Dudley Square bus station in 2014 after she tried to talk Garvey out of shoving and “screaming and swearing at a woman” and called 911 to report the behavior.

Holmes said that as she was calling 911, Garvey pepper-sprayed her before hitting her with a baton as Trinh held her arms, and that both officers knocked her to the ground. Holmes presented video evidence from the bus station.

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Holmes later accused the T of allowing the episode to occur by hiring Garvey, despite a previous arrest for assault and battery, and by failing to properly handle civilian and internal complaints against the officer.

As part of the settlement, the MBTA will pay Holmes an amount that was not disclosed and cover her legal fees.

Additionally, the MBTA Transit Police Department will be required to post its use-of-force policy online and make it easier to file online complaints about officers’ conduct.

The settlement comes after the police force instituted changes requiring closer supervisor review of use-of-force complaints from the public.

“Police departments must police their own officers. That is what Ms. Holmes’s case is all about,” said Carl Williams, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which represented Holmes.

“Prior to the resolution of this matter, our department took significant steps to improve monitoring and training, and we will continue to ensure that all of our officers engage the public in a professional manner,” Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green said.

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Garvey is also facing criminal charges over the incident, brought after Holmes sued. Her trial begins this month in Suffolk Superior Court. Garvey was fired in late 2015, though police officials said the dismissal was not related to the Holmes lawsuit. She had spent months on administrative leave, following an arrest on domestic violence charges, and was also charged with assault at a concert later that year.

Trinh remains on active duty, MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said. Dave Condon, an attorney representing Garvey and Trinh, declined to comment on the settlement because of the criminal case pending against Garvey.


Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.