MARTA police arrest suspect in violent attack on trans women

One suspect in the violent attack of two transgender women on MARTA has been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

luther thomasThe suspect’s name is Luther Lamar Thomas, 34, of Atlanta (pictured at left after being arrested and is the suspect in above photo attacking Janell Crosby). He was arrested Thursday is being held at the Fulton County Jail on a $2,500 bond. He also has been banned from MARTA, according to Alisa Jackson, spokesperson for MARTA.

More information and developments in the case are possible later today, she added.

MARTA police say the investigation has been difficult because witnesses and the victims are unwilling to talk, according to Project Q Atlanta, which first reported the arrest.

“The major difficulty we’ve experienced with this investigation is the lack of cooperation by the witnesses and the victim(s) which has hampered our ability to ascertain exactly what happened,” MARTA spokesperson Lyle Harris told GA Voice.  “In addition, we want to make it clear that the victim(s) allegations that MARTA Police Officers initially rebuffed their attempts to file a report after the incident occurred appear to be unfounded.”

In an email to GA Voice, Jackson also said the victims are not willing to speak to police.

“There is no evidence that would indicate the allegations made by the victim(s) about MARTA Police Officers refusing or rebuffing their attempts to file a report about this incident after it occurred are accurate. Our investigators have attempted to interview the victims but they have not been cooperative,” she stated.

One of the victims, Janell Crosby, told GA Voice she and her friend, Tyra Woods, who was also attacked and stripped nude, attempted to make a report to MARTA police the night of the incident but an officer ignored their request. “I told one cop who was following us to the gate. He acted like he didn’t want to hear from us. He didn’t write any statement or anything,” she said.

She also told the Solutions Not Punishment Coalition that she wanted an apology from MARTA police.

“I see MARTA cops all the time, but they spend more time arresting people for jumping the turnstiles and other petty things than keeping anyone in the LGBT community safe. I would like an apology for their treatment of me – they are supposed to serve and protect and they didn’t do that – and they didn’t do that because I am a Black trans* woman,” Crosby said.

On Thursday, Mayor Kasim Reed called the attack on the transgender women a hate crime and LGBT activists have issued statements demanding action from the city and MARTA to make public transportation safe for all people.

Georgia does not have a state hate crimes law. Georgia did have a hate crimes law on the books for four years, after it was pushed through the legislature by state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). The law was tossed by the state Supreme Court in 2004 for being “unconstitutionally vague” because it did not include specific categories such as race and sexual orientation. When the General Assembly passed the bill in 2001, specific categories were left out in order to avoid a battle over including sexual orientation.

Two Atlanta men were sentenced under the federal hate crime law two years ago for the beating of gay man Brandon White. White’s attack in the South Pittsburgh neighborhood in 2012 was also recorded with a cell phone and uploaded to a website where it also went viral.