SEATTLE - The youngest suspect in a brutal meeting in Seattle's bus tunnel pleaded not guilty Thursday morning at the King County Juvenile Center.
The 15-year-old girl, seen beating and kicking another teenage girl on video as security guards looked on, was arraigned on charges of first degree robbery, which is a combination charge of assault and robbery and carries a standard sentencing range of up to two and a half years in juvenile detention.
But her attorney says there's more to the story than what's on the tape.
There's always a story that goes beyond what the obvious is. That's one of the things that's always very frustrating for defense attorneys when you're in a situation where the public sees something. It's a very small snapshot to what's really happened because there's always the whole story behind everything, said Elinor Cromwell, defense attorney.
Police believe three older boys, ranging in age from 18 to 20 years old, helped out in the crime. They will face the same charge later this month and are being held on $100,000 bail. Their arraignment is set for February 24.
In the wake of a KING 5 Investigators report on the video recorded beating, King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered Metro Transit to review polices that restrict what unarmed Transit security guards can do when seeing criminal activity.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn saidThursday he's offering to put uniformed Seattle Police officers in the Metro bus tunnel. King County has jurisdiction over Metro operations and McGinn says this an offer to help. At least one King County deputy will be stationed at each of the five Metro tunnel stations.
The KING 5 Investigators uncovered the disturbing video captured on five different security cameras underneath downtown Seattle. It shows the graphic beating of a teenage girl in Seattle's Metro bus tunnel, while uniformed security guards simply look on.
The incident took place at around 7 p.m. on Jan. 28. When the beating is over, you see on the tape that not one guard bends down to see if the victim is breathing or needs help.
The 15-year-old victim says she tried to get help from the guards before the attack.
In charging papers, the teen says I knew I was in big trouble... I went to security and told them these kids were trying to jump me... but he acted like he didn't care.
Moments later, the girl is pummeled by another 15-year-old girl who punches her and kicks her in the head, as an accomplice grabs the victim's purse.
The sister of one of the adult defendants claims the victim has been attacking people in the downtown area.
The guards are not trained police officers or Metro Transit employees. They're contract workers from Olympic Security Services out of Tukwila. According to their contract, the guards are to observe and report problems, not to get involved. Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond says that policy is now out of date.
You look at what's happening to the victim and you say something got to be changed, said Desmond. That's just not going to be acceptable. We've had that observe and report for years in our contract and this incident clearly shows that we need to change that.
Metro Transit has already launched a review to see what powers they should give the guards. They re working with the King County Sheriff's Office to figure out how best to change the protocols.
In his order following the KING 5 report, Constantine said in a press release, Public Safety is our top priority. I am appalled by the sight of uniformed guards standing by while a person was kicked and beaten. I have ordered a full review of all operating policies that govern Metro's contract with civilian security guards to determine what changes must be made.
Metro Transit Police and King Co. Sheriff s deputies worked around the clock to track down the suspects. School yearbooks, MySpace pages and Facebook helped lead them to those involved.
The mother of the alleged attacker tells KING 5 of her daughter that She's a good person, loving sister and daughter. She has a good heart but unfortunately things happen.
But those who witnessed the attack say this THING should never have been allowed to happen.
Really? You've got three male security guards there, a young girl that's getting kicked in the head lying on the ground motionless, and they couldn't do anything? It doesn't seem like security, said a witness.
In a late day statement, Olympic Security said: In the past, our guards have been very effective in deterring fights when only two people were involved, by verbal intercession or acting as a physical buffer. When a situation has escalated like the one depicted in the videotape, these passive approaches are not effective.
The victim's family say she is recovering well.