Metro Transit reviewing alleged beating of autistic teen Marcus Abrams

Marcus Abrams after his encounter with police.

Marcus Abrams after his encounter with police.

Tuesday night after Black Lives Matter St. Paul wrapped up its protest of Gov. Mark Dayton, the group gathered in front of the governor’s mansion to hear sisters Jacqueline Vaughn and Neenah Caldwell recount a harrowing interaction between their 17-year-old brother and police.

Vaughn told the crowd that on Monday evening her brother, Marcus Abrams, who is legally blind and autistic, "was coming home from the State Fair and off of Lexington and University was beaten brutally by the police. He was beaten so bad he was in a seizure and declared dead for 15 minutes." She added that police accused her brother of being under the influence.

According to Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla, police were driving by the Lexington station at about 7 p.m. that day when they saw Abrams on the light rail tracks, “a dangerous situation for anybody.” Officers asked Abrams to get off the tracks, so the teen jumped back on the platform. Officers then began to question him.

What happened afterward is under review. Video footage of the station is not yet available to the public and Padilla isn’t ready to confirm exactly what led officers to take Abrams to the ground. He said the teen suffered a split lip, though if Abrams also went into a seizure, it would have been beyond the officers’ ability to recognize it definitively.

Padilla said officers eventually called medics and took Abrams to the hospital, where they discussed what happened with his mother. Abrams’ mother said she intended to file a complaint, though has not done so as of Wednesday afternoon.

“After the mother notified us of the teen’s challenges and issues, we determined that he should go home with his mother rather than the juvenile detention center,” Padilla says. 

On Tuesday, Vaughn said it was a witness who called an ambulance to take her brother to the hospital.