OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The family of the young woman stabbed to death at an Oakland BART station says they are planning to sue Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
The Arns Law Firm is preparing the lawsuit on behalf of the family they announced on Wednesday. The firm’s suit will claim Nia Wilson’s killing was both “foreseeable” and “preventable.”
Wilson, who was 18-years-old, was killed on July 22 as she got off the train at MacArthur Station. According to reports, she died in her sister’s arms after they were brutally stabbed. BART police called it a “prison-style attack.” Nia’s 26-year-old sister Letifah Wilson survived.
John Lee Cowell, a 27-year-old transient, was charged last week with murder and premeditated attempted murder in the attack. Members of Wilson's family have dismissed reports the suspect is mentally ill.
The firm said in a press release that they are prepared to allege Cowell shouldn't have been permitted to enter the BART system. It had been reported he evaded fare just days before the killing.
Prosecutors allege that Cowell, who had been on probation, was convicted of second-degree robbery in Contra Costa County on Oct. 12, 2016, and of assault with a deadly weapon in Contra Costa County on May 25, 2012.
He was arrested July 23, a day after the killing, at Pleasant Hill BART Station. A tip to police led to his capture.
The suit will demand that BART catch so-called fare evaders in the act. It also asks BART to provide "accurate and up to date information to the public about criminal activity on the system and at each station." The firm also calls for the implementation of policies and deployment of personnel to deter crime.
The firm said BART failed to meet a safety standard highlighted on their own website that claims safety and security are the primary focus at BART.
BART issued a response to the law firm on Thursday. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our riders and employees. The murder of Nia Wilson on BART is a tragedy and we continue to extend our deepest condolences to the Wilson family." BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost added that BART has more than 4,000 surveillance cameras and that they are thankful the suspect is in custody in large part because of those cameras.
Wilson's father, Ansar al Muhammand, had said his daughter Nia was set to graduate from Dewey Academy with honors and planned to join the military.
Wilson's family plans to hold her funeral service this Friday, August 3 at The Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ in Oakland at 11 a.m. The service is open to the public. A viewing was held on Thursday at WFG Fuller Funerals in Oakland.