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Arrest after Metro incident sparks lawsuit

Tuesday - 1/17/2012, 2:00pm  ET

Editor's note: Video clip contains language that may be offensive to some.

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Lawrence Miller says he was arrested for speaking up after a controversial incident where Metro Transit Police appeared to slam a man in a wheelchair to the ground. Now, Miller is suing Metro Transit Police for violating his right to freedom of expression, false arrest and other claims.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday, comes eight months after the incident outside the U Street Metro Station, captured on Youtube.

Miller talked about the episode during a news conference.

"Metro's motto is, if you see something , say something. Well I said something, and I was arrested," Miller says.

In the video, Miller can be heard loudly questioning transit police after he says his friend Dwight Harris was picked up from his wheelchair and slammed to the ground.

"I was very excited. I did use some profane language. But as anyone would if you see your friend being thrown to the ground, you are going to say something," says Miller.

Miller says he then walked away, but was followed by a transit police officer, thrown against a police cruiser and arrested.

"I want the world to know that this behavior is not acceptable. I was always told that if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

ACLU Attorney Fritz Mulhauser says his group is involved because of a violation of the first amendment.

"The ACLU stands up any time freedom of speech protection is challenged," said Mulhauser.

Metro says it does not comment on active litigation.

All charges in the case -- against Harris and Miller -- were eventually dropped. Also, after an internal investigation, the transit police officers involved in the episode were cleared and allowed back on the job.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)