City Paper is not for tourists
As Officer Heidi Rivas testifies against his girlfriend, Latrelle McInnis,on Monday afternoon, Shawn Johnson knocks his head against the chair in front of him in frustration. In his view, the transit cop isn’t telling the whole story. Evidently, the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station isn’t just a place where people fight, it’s also a place where they play-fight.
Johnson, 18, and McInnis, 19, may have run into zealous Metro cops eager to stamp out youth violence on trains and at stations. On May 25, 2010, Johnson says, he, McInnis, and two friends were at L’Enfant at about 11:30 p.m, waiting to catch a train to Southern Avenue.
As youths sometimes do, Johnson’s buddies decided to past the time being rowdy. “They playing around or whatever, horse playing,” Johnson remembers. Though his friends might have looked like they were fighting, he swears they weren’t.
As the two went at it, Johnson spotted some transit cops approaching. Trying to keep his friends from landing in trouble, he got in the middle of the roughhousing. But it was too late, the cops had arrived and seemed to believe there was something menacing going on. Johnson says he tried to explain everything was OK. But as he talked, one of the cops grabbed his arm.
Johnson yanked it away and the cops slammed him to the ground. “I ain’t doing nothing,” Johnson repeatedly protested. They maced and handcuffed him. Johnson says he doesn’t know why the cops reacted the way they did. “They chipped my tooth.”
That’s about when McInnis got in trouble. She, too, kept insisting Johnson hadn’t done anything and—Johnson says—”they told her to leave and she wouldn’t.”
Though prosecutors didn’t pursue a case against Johnson, they did go after McInnis. Charging papers filed against her say, “While officers were attempting to effect an arrest the defendant (later identified as Ms. Latrelle Dareece McInnis) became very aggressive walking up behind officers hindering them from effecting the arrest. The defendant acted in a disorderly manner, yelling profanities in a building at night to annoy a number of patrons by causing them to gather or flee the immediate area.”
The papers go on to allege that when Rivas attempted to escort McInnis away, McInnis said, “I’m not going nowhere, bitch” and threw a punch at Rivas. Rivas maced and arrested her.
So far, McInnis’ non-jury trial isn’t going so well for her. According to Johnson, a witness for the defense was arrested for an outstanding warrant when he came to the courthouse to reveal what he saw.
“Now we all fucked up,” says Johnson.
Another problem? Despite all the cameras in the station, Metro says it can’t produce video of the incident—footage Johnson believes would exonerate his girlfriend. From the stand, Rivas said the video was gone, as Metro records over its footage about every two days.