MTA weighs probe into police action Bus driver claims she was injured by officer

December 27, 1991|By Roger Twigg *

A Mass Transit Administration spokesman said yesterday that the agency has not yet decided whether to seek an investigation of a Dec. 16 incident in which a female bus driver claimed a city police officer used excessive force.

It also is not known if the bus driver, Mary Elizabeth Armstrong, 37, of the 1700 block of East 30th Street, intends to pursue the matter by filing a complaint with the Police Department.

Yesterday, police spokesman Dennis S. Hill said no complaints about the incident have been filed at the Northeast District or the department's Internal Investigation Division. No accident report was filed on the matter because there were no injuries or damage involved, Mr. Hill said.

The bus driver and the officer involved in the incident have given differing accounts of what happened about 2 p.m. Dec. 16.

Officer Ross S. Griffen, a 13-year veteran, went to the intersection of Harford Road and Cold Spring Lane to investigate the reported collision of a bus and van.

In his report, Officer Griffen said he checked the scene, determined there was no damage or injuries and allowed the van's driver to leave.

To ease traffic congestion, Officer Griffen, 34, said he then asked the bus driver to pull her vehicle to a side street, but Ms. Armstrong repeatedly refused and said she would not move the bus until her supervisor arrived, as is MTA policy. The officer said the bus driver berated him several times with profane language.

When Office Griffen's supervisor and another officer arrived, he said he again asked Ms. Armstrong to move the bus. Again, he said, Ms. Armstrong cursed him and refused. He then arrested her for failing to obey a lawful order of a police officer.

However, Ms. Armstrong, who has been driving buses for about eight years, has said that when she declined to move the bus to await her supervisor, Officer Griffen pulled her from her seat and banged her against a pole, bruising her back, some ribs, her right hand and thumb.

MTA officials have said 12 witnesses will support Ms. Armstrong's account, while Officer Griffen has the words of his sergeant and a fellow officer.

Said an MTA spokeswoman concerning the witnesses: "Some of them would say that, in their opinion, extreme force was used unnecessarily."

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