MTA probes driver claim of police mistreatment Woman says officer bruised ribs, back

The Mass Transit Administration is questioning the way Baltimore police handled a minor traffic accident that resulted in the arrest of an MTA bus driver, who claims she was roughly handled by the arresting officer.

Mary Armstrong, who has driven MTA buses for eight years, told transit officials that the officer pulled her out of her seat and banged her against a pole, bruising her back, some ribs, her right hand and thumb.


Dianna Rosborough, media relations manager for the MTA, said yesterday that the state transit agency's "preliminary investigation" supports the allegations of Ms. Armstrong, 37, about the Dec. 16 incident.

Ms. Armstrong's bus was rear-ended by a van about 1:50 p.m. at the intersection of Harford Road and Cold Spring Lane.


She was arrested, MTA officials said, after she refused to drive away until the police officer gave her the name, address and insurance company of the van driver. She said he would not do so.

"She does have 12 witnesses that back up her story," Ms. Rosborough said.

"Some of them would say that, in their opinion, extreme force was used unnecessarily." The MTA spokeswoman added that, based on the evidence so far, "we are in support of Mary and we have questions about how it was handled by city police."

Police department regulations require accident reports to be filed within 72 hours of the incident. Ms. Rosborough said the MTA has not been able to locate a copy of that report.

By late yesterday afternoon, Dennis S. Hill, a spokesman for the police department, said he was not successful in tracking down the report and deferred comment.

Charles Pettis, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1300, which represents bus drivers, said "there was a question of whether or not she was properly handled by the police officer."

He said the union "supports" Ms. Armstrong. But he declined to comment on her claims of mistreatment. "I'm just a little leery of saying anything about it because she has to go before a judge and the officer has to go before a judge," he said.

The collision caused some damage to the van but none to the bus, Ms. Rosborough said. An officer arrived within a few minutes.


"It appears the police officer knew the person [driving the van]," Ms. Rosborough said.

"They shook hands. They talked. And then he [the police officer] told the guy, 'Go ahead, don't worry about it.' "

The van driver left the scene, she said, and the officer told Ms. Armstrong, "Go ahead and go, don't worry about it."

Ms. Armstrong, whose bus was sitting in a traffic lane, refused, saying she wanted a copy of the accident report, as required by MTA policy.

The driver told the MTA the police officer then pulled her out of her seat -- banging her against a metal post -- handcuffed her and took her to the Northwestern District.

Mr. Pettis said she was charged with disorderly conduct and failing to obey the lawful order of a police officer.


She was not released until 3 a.m. the next morning, Ms. Rosborough said.