The family of a woman killed last year on an Oakland station platform is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the transit agency.
Just days ago, BART kicked off a security blitz in an attempt to curb fare evaders, but Nia Wilson’s family claims it’s too little, too late. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the lawsuit alleges that more security could have spared the 18-year-old’s life. She was stabbed in the neck at the MacArthur BART Station. Her alleged killed, 28-year-old John Lee Cowell, was a serial fare evader and should never have gained entry to the station.
“Plaintiffs contend that had BART taken adequate measures to prevent fare evaders from entering BART’s stations, platforms or trains, Nia Wilson would not have died,” the suit states.
Wilson’s family is requesting both monetary relief and a judge’s order to compel system-wide safety measures. BART has sporadically embraced certain measures in select locations. The ones laid out in the lawsuit include consistent staffing and policies to block fare evaders at all BART stations. The suit is also demanding a “Nia Wilson Crime Statistics Notice,” which would display crime metrics for the last four years at each station.
Cowell was recently released from prison and arrested the following day after a massive region wide manhunt. He is currently charged with murder and attempted murder. His attorney has argued he is incompetent to stand trial.
Wilson’s family’s lawsuit claims BART officials knew about the link between fare evasion and crime, but failed to do much about it until after Wilson’s death.
“This lawsuit is part of Nia Wilson’s family’s commitment to hold BART accountable for cleaning up its system,” attorneys Robert Arns and Jonathan Davis said in a statement. “No one else should have to suffer because of BART’s failure to protect its riders.”
BART spokesman James K. Allison said in a statement that agency officials “continue to express our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Nia Wilson. However, we do not comment on potential or pending litigation.”
Photo: Joseph DeSantis / Contributor
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