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Jury awards former MARTA employee after he was terminated for incident he says was self-defense – WSB-TV Channel 2

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ATLANTA — Former MARTA worker John Harrison says working for MARTA was a job he did with delight.

“I felt so precious shifting all these individuals round safely on the bus and practice,” Harrison mentioned.

However many years later, that delight become anguish after MARTA fired him.

“I wasn’t making an attempt to knock the fella off the platform I used to be simply defending myself,” Harrison mentioned.

Leaders at MARTA informed Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln they classify an altercation between Harrison and a passenger as aggravated assault towards the passenger.

The incident occurred in 2019 on the Bankhead practice station.

“There was no threat of a practice coming. This was on the finish of the road,” Harrison’s lawyer James Howard mentioned.

Harrison mentioned he was appearing in self-defense after approaching a person who was yelling and shouting profanity to passengers.

“I simply couldn’t imagine the following phrases out of his mouth, nicely in case you don’t name MARTA Police I’ll punch you within the face,” Harrison mentioned.

Harrison was later terminated after which charged with aggravated assault, which is a felony within the state of Georgia.

“If MARTA had simply terminated his employment, he would have accepted that,” Howard mentioned.

Howard says the proof clearly factors to self-defense and never aggravated assault.

“We concluded they determined to cost him with a felony so he wouldn’t problem his termination,” Howard mentioned.


MARTA mentioned they offered the case to Fulton County’s district lawyer’s workplace as a result of Harrison was in violation of their coverage, which prohibits combating except it may be proven as an act of self-defense.

In a press release, MARTA mentioned:

“Operators are educated to de-escalate conditions. Had Harrison walked away from the patron and returned to the practice cab, the incident would have been averted.

“The Rail Operator rulebook (Rule 2.36) prohibits combating on MARTA property except it may be proven that it was an act of self-defense. An investigation by MARTA Police decided that at no time was the patron a menace to Harrison contained in the railcar or on the platform. The Fulton County DA’s workplace charged him with aggravated assault and people costs have been ultimately dismissed.”

A Fulton County choose dismissed the aggravated assault cost, citing Harrison acted in self-defense.

Harrison mentioned he determined to file a civil go well with towards MARTA for malice termination for pursuing the felony cost.

Final Friday, a Fulton County jury ordered MARTA to pay Harrison a six-figure judgment.

This was MARTA’s response to the jury’s order:

“Whereas MARTA appreciates the jurors performing their civic obligation it disagrees with the decision and plans to enchantment.  Mr. Harrison alleged malicious prosecution.  As such, he was required by regulation to point out each the presence of malice and the absence of possible trigger.  In different phrases, Mr. Harrison was required to point out: 1) a fairly prudent particular person couldn’t imagine he assaulted the passenger and a pair of) the officer and authority have been out to get him.  MARTA believes Mr. Harrison failed on each counts and plans to enchantment the choice.

“The video proof by itself confirmed possible trigger.  The video clearly exhibits Harrison leaving his practice to go onto the platform to confront the patron. The patron tried to stroll away not less than 3 times through the incident and relatively than return to his cab and preserve service shifting, Harrison pursued him, escalating the state of affairs. The video exhibits Harrison chase the patron and push him off the platform the place he fell 5 ft down onto the tracks. Had a practice been approaching the station, the patron would have been struck.  A grand jury indicted Mr. Harrison on the bottom of aggravated assault, which is additional proof of possible trigger.  And trial testimony confirmed that the concerned officers didn’t know Mr. Harrison and had no ailing will towards him; this exhibits there was no malice current.

“When all of those details are taken as a complete, MARTA is assured the decision might be overturned.”

Channel 2 Motion Information reported earlier this 12 months MARTA has taken related motion towards different staff concerned in altercations.

In March of 2022, a Clayton County choose dismissed a felony-aggravated assault cost towards former MARTA bus driver, Labarron Morgan.

The Clayton County choose mentioned Morgan acted in self-defense.

Morgan mentioned that whereas he was dropping passengers off close to Jonesboro Highway and Forrest Parkway in Clayton County, this passenger onboard wouldn’t cease shouting profanities whereas listening to music.

“It progressively bought louder and louder,” Morgan mentioned.

He mentioned he tried alerting the person, however when the person didn’t cease, Morgan informed him he wanted to get off the bus.

The passenger walked to the entrance of the bus and refused to go away. Morgan mentioned he known as 911.

He admits to pushing the partition that was dividing them, solely after he mentioned the passenger pushed it towards him first.

“I’m going to shoot you bro,” the passenger informed Morgan. The passenger ultimately exited the bus.

MARTA informed Channel 2 Motion Information that it offered the case to Clayton County, the place a felony-aggravated assault cost was later filed towards Morgan. He turned himself in and spent three days in jail till he may bond out.

“I don’t need to be ready the place I’ve to defend myself,” he mentioned.

Channel 2 Motion Information reached out to MARTA about that incident.

In a press release, the transit company mentioned that passenger security is their No. 1 precedence and that after reviewing the video, it determined to terminate Morgan.

MARTA additionally mentioned that drivers are educated on find out how to correctly reply to non-public threats, however Morgan maintains he was handled unfairly.


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