Family Of Nia Wilson, Teen Killed At Train Station, Sues Agency Over Lack Of Safety

The 18-year-old was stabbed to death at a BART station in Oakland, California, last summer.

The family of Nia Wilson, the teenager killed on a San Francisco Bay Area train platform last year, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the transit agency on Friday, arguing that it’s not doing enough to ensure riders’ safety.

The lawsuit, which was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, alleges that better security in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system would prevent fare evaders from entering train platforms.

“Plaintiffs contend that Nia Wilson’s death was not a horrific anomaly, but rather the result of a serious and endemic public safety problem,” the lawsuit states.

Wilson, 18, was fatally stabbed while standing at a BART station with her sister in Oakland last July. The accused killer, John Lee Cowell, was a known fare evader. 

In addition to demands for monetary relief, her family is asking that BART do more to improve security at its stations, including implementing a system for tracking regular fare evaders, establishing more consistent staffing at stations and creating something called the Nia Wilson Crime Statistics Notice, which could provide riders the most up-to-date information about crime at every BART station.

BART’s recent efforts to improve safety at its stations, where fare evaders are costing the agency $25 million a year, are not adequate to prevent another death like Nia’s, her family says in the suit.

A spokesman for BART said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Crowell is awaiting a mental competency hearing in order to determine whether he’s fit to stand trial. Though there was widespread speculation that Cowell attacked Wilson because she was black, he has not been charged with a hate crime. 

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