Metro (WMATA)

‘Stop Harassing Black Riders': Student Charged After Metro Incident

Metro Transit police officers pushed Howard University student DeSean Smith to the ground over alleged fare evasion in Silver Spring, his family says. Bystanders called Smith's father after he shouted out his phone number

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A college student was slammed to the ground and faces criminal charges after he was accused of Metro fare evasion in Silver Spring, Maryland, his family and attorney say.

DeSean Smith, a 21-year-old Howard University student, is taking on Metro after an incident earlier this month at the Silver Spring station. 

Activists joined his family in protest on Sunday, chanting “Stop harassing Black riders” and holding signs that said “Black youth deserve better” and “Let Black youth ride in peace.” 

Smith’s family wants the charges from June 10 dropped and for Metro Transit police to treat fare evasion as a civil, not criminal, matter. His supporters say an allegation that he evaded a fare of less than $5 should not have resulted in the police response seen in photos. Multiple officers can be seen around Smith.

“I do want these charges dropped — his reputation restored,” Smith’s father, Kevin Smith, said. “They accosted him, slammed him to the ground, knee in the back."

Metro police have not provided officers’ version of what happened. 

Smith is accused of theft, resisting arrest and disobeying police orders. They’re misdemeanor crimes that carry jail time. 

“He was trying to talk to the officer, to deescalate the situation, and the officer just kind of escalated the situation to a point of just violence,” Kevin Smith said. 

He said his son had never before been in trouble.

Witnesses say that as Smith laid on the ground, he yelled out his father’s phone number to bystanders. 

Mary Glenshaw was one of the people who called his dad. She joined the protest on Sunday and demanded accountability.

“He was not resisting. He was still. He might have said, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ And the next thing I knew, his face was on the ground,” she said. 

DeSean Smith attended the protest but did not speak because his case is pending.

His lawyer said she’ll fight the charges and “highlight the ways in which the criminal punishment system normalizes violent arrests and assaults of the Black and brown members of our community every day.” 

Metro Transit officers stood by as the demonstration took place. 

A Metro spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing. According to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, the case is under investigation and the office has historically encouraged police to treat fare evasion as a civil offense.

The case is set for trial next month.

Correction (June 20, 2022 at 9:40 p.m. EST): This article previously incorrectly attributed Kevin Smith's quotes to his son, DeSean. DeSean Smith did not speak because his case is pending.

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