A Philadelphia jury listened to a nurse testify for hours Wednesday about how a SEPTA cop allegedly attacked and handcuffed her on Christmas Day 2013 in an effort to stop her from filing a complaint against him.
“I don’t trust the police. I trusted police before,” testified Muibat Williamson, 54, a Nigerian immigrant who has worked as a nurse for 19 years.
Former SEPTA police officer Douglas Ioven, 44, is currently on trial charged with assault, false imprisonment, and recklessly endangering another person.
Williamson described during her testimony how, after wrapping up a 12-hour overnight shift as a neurology nurse at Albert Einstein Medical Center, she was at Suburban Station to catch an 8:30 a.m. train home to Wilmington when she stopped into Dunkin Donuts.
Surveillance video shown in court shows Ioven, on-duty and in uniform, standing to the side of the Dunkin Donuts cash register, then stepping in front of Williamson to order.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, are you in line?’ He didn’t answer. Then I went to order and he cut in front of me. Because he’s a policeman, I respect the police, I backed up,” she testified.
Williamson claimed Ioven stepped on her foot as he left. When she asked him to apologize, he refused, she said. They began to argue, but another woman interceded, saying, “Today is Christmas, let us have a nice day,” Williamson testified.
After Ioven left, that same woman urged her to file a report, so she walked over to A SEPTA police office – but again encountered Ioven, who spotted her knocking on the door.
“He said ‘If you don’t get the f--- out of that place, I’m gonna put handcuffs on you. I’m not playing around,” she testified. “My instincts said to run. I started running.”
Williamson testified that as she fled, Ioven “grabbed the back of my head head and smashed it into the MAC [ATM] machine.”
Other SEPTA officers quickly arrived and cuffed Williamson.
“In that moment, I just want to get out,” she testified. “I said, ‘What did I do wrong that I have to be treated like this?’”
Williamson said she was let go with a citation. She filed a complaint with SEPTA police, then went home to her family.
“I have two kids I had to spend Christmas with, but I couldn’t — because I had a headache, I’m tired, I’m crying. I couldn’t sleep because of my headache,” she testified.
She went back to work at 7 p.m. that night, where her coworkers noticed the swelling on her head and made her go to the emergency room. Williamson said she experienced headaches for another two weeks after the incident.
But Ioven’s lawyer, Joseph Silvestro Jr., argued that Williamson was exaggerating the incident, that Ioven never stepped on her foot, and that Williamson might just want to get money
“Do you agree that if you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t need to apologize?” Silvestro asked on cross-examination, adding that his client “does not feel then or now that he stepped on your toe.”
“Even an accident, you still have to apologize,” Williamson retorted. “What I expect police to be, it’s not like that. I was disappointed.”
Silvestro described Williamson’s encounter with his client in the Dunkin Donuts line as “about as minor of an incident as you can have… It was a one-second touch.”
Silvestro also asked Williamson if her objective is to get money from a civil lawsuit she filed against SEPTA, which is currently pending.
“My objective is to let him know what he did is wrong,” she replied.
Ioven, who was booted from SEPTA police a few months after the incident, declined to comment on the case.
Testimony is scheduled to continue on Thursday.