A lawsuit alleging Metro Transit Police used excessive force in restraining a 17-year-old St. Paul youth with autism at a Green Line light-rail station was transferred to federal court late last week.
Marcus Abrams, now 18, claims he was attacked by two Metro Transit Police officers at the Lexington Avenue LRT stop about 7 p.m. on Aug. 31, 2015, after he finished work at the State Fair.
Abrams says the attack caused him to suffer a seizure on the light-rail station platform, requiring hospital care, and he continues to suffer "lasting" pain as a result of the incident.
Abrams, through a court-appointed guardian, is seeking $350,000 in compensatory damages, and an unspecified amount of punitive damages. The suit, originally filed in Ramsey County Court in July, will now be heard in U.S. District Court.
Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr said the agency had no comment because litigation is pending.
The suit was filed against officers Richard Wegner and Paul Buzicky, and the Metropolitan Council, which oversees operation of the Green Line.
Court documents state that Abrams and friends "horsed around" on the light-rail platform as they waited for a train.
Wegner approached Abrams, asked if he was drunk and then requested identification. When Abrams said he didn't have identification, Wegner "body slammed" him to the station's concrete surface, causing him to lose consciousness and prompting a seizure. While his body was "shaking uncontrollably," the suit says, the officers allegedly "delivered knee strikes, punches and used restraint techniques to handcuff Abrams."
Abrams suffered from injuries to his mouth, head, face, neck, teeth, brain, torso and wrists, and was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul for treatment, according to the suit. He tested negative for illegal drugs and alcohol.
Wegner, who was on probation at the time of the incident, later failed probation and was let go by the Metro Transit Police Department. Officer Buzicky remains with the department.
Metro Transit said an internal investigation was conducted following the incident. No "sustained violations" against either officer were found as a result of that investigation, Kerr said.
The incident prompted a protest by about 100 members of Black Lives Matter last fall before the Minnesota Vikings' home opener.