The family of Nia Wilson, the 18-year-old girl who was senselessly stabbed to death at a San Francisco Bay Area BART Station last summer, filed a lawsuit against the transportation agency on Friday.
According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, Nia’s family believes the agency failed to provide their riders with adequate security. John Lee Cowell, the man charged in Wilson’s death, was a known fare evader and the family believes if a security guard had intervened when Cowell initially tried to jump the fare, Nia might still be alive.
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“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.
Cowell was arrested days after law enforcement launched a manhunt, in part because of the nationwide attention regarding the teen’s senseless death. He was charged with murder and attempted murder, but his lawyer argues that he is not competent enough to face trial.
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Nia’s family laid out a set of requests that they demand the agency complete instead of requesting a large financial sum. Those measures would include, “consistent staffing and policies to block fare evaders at all BART stations, as well as a ‘Nia Wilson Crime Statistics Notice,’ which would display crime metrics for the last four years at each specific station,” the Chronicle reports.
The lawsuit comes as BART has increased some security measures for the 25,000 average number of commuters who use the service during peak hours, according to statistics from a 2018 BART factsheet. But the family feels the tactics the agency has taken to increase safety have not been enough. Those measures included locking swing gates, building taller walls near some of the stations and hiring more officers to oversee the civilian areas, and target fare evaders.
Wilson’s tragic slaying occurred on July 22 while she was exiting a train with her sisters Letifah and Tashiya at the MacArthur Station around 9:30 p.m. Nia and Letifah were both slashed in the neck by Cowell, but Nia’s wounds proved to be fatal. Tashiya was left physically unharmed. Nia’s death was shared across social media and signified the deepest fears that many Black women face, as she died from an unprovoked attack at the hands of a white man.
“This lawsuit is part of Nia Wilson’s family’s commitment to hold BART accountable for cleaning up its system,” family 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.”
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