The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police Department in Boston is currently under fire, after video of an officer hitting an unarmed black woman with a baton on a bus went viral Friday. When witnesses — the majority of whom were black — attempted to de-escalate the situation, the unnamed officer pulled his gun on them.
In a video uploaded to Facebook by the group Mass Action Against Police Brutality, the officer repeatedly strikes the unidentified woman, yelling “Back up, back up, shut the fuck up!” The woman scuffles with the officer as bystanders yell for him to stop and for the woman to calm down. As people on the bus approach the officer, imploring him to stop, he pulls out his gun and points it towards them. Witnesses yell at him to drop the gun, as the woman tries to push the officer’s baton away and he stands with his finger on the trigger.
When backup arrives to help subdue the woman, who lashes out against the first officer, a gun is drawn on her again. When the woman is finally cuffed, one of the officers pulls her hair.
Watch the video here:
MBTA Police Lieutenant Richard Sullivan later said the woman was first approached for a theft, and that the officer used force because the woman was aggressive.
“If you saw the video in the beginning, the officer asks that woman to step off the bus so he can conduct an investigation. She refused to do so, and became actively non-compliant and assaultive,” he said. Sullivan wouldn’t comment on the officer’s decision to pull out his gun.
An investigation is pending, and the officer has been placed on administrative duty.
“This is the state of police brutality and violence,” the Mass Action Facebook group wrote, when it posted the video Friday. “For Black people it’s always guilt until proven innocent.”
This is not the first time MBTA Transit Police have drawn criticism this year. Eight months after an officer was heralded for saving a man from falling onto the train tracks in a subway station, a video circulated of the officer punching the man in the face. A photo of the man shows a bruised face and a closed black eye. When the original story about the officer’s heroic deed was first reported, transit authorities edited the video to exclude the use of force.