Families of two men killed in a bloody May 2017 knife attack on a MAX train in Portland are suing TriMet and Portland police, seeking more than $20 million in damages.
Vajra Alaya-Maitreya, sister of 23-year-old Taliesin M. Namkai-Meche, one of two men killed in the attack, filed the wrongful death lawsuit May 23 in Multnomah County Circuit Court. She claims both TriMet and the Portland Police Bureau were negligent because they didn't enforce rules against weapons on MAX trains.
On Friday, May 24, Myhanh Best, wife of 53-year-old Ricky John Best, who also was killed in the attack, sued TriMet and Portland police, also claiming both agencies negligently failed to keep light-rail trains safe for passengers. Myhahn Best is also seeking $10 million in damages.
Alaya-Maitreya is a legal representative of her brother's estate. Her lawsuit also claimed police failed to take the suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, into custody just days before the fatal attack, even though he was shouting, ranting and threatening to stab people on a Yellow Line train. Just a day before the fatal attack, an African-American woman tried to get the attention of police and a train operator to stop Christian from harassing her, but neither took action, according to the complaint. He also made the same threats to passengers on a Blue Line train, Alaya-Maitreya's lawsuit claimed.
Myhanh Best's lawsuit mirrors those claims, saying TriMet and the Portland Police Bureau did not hold Christian even though he was well-known to police for more than a dozen years because of his violent behavior and loud threats toward people of color.
TriMet and the Portland Police Bureau do not comment on pending litigation. No court date has been set for the case.
Christian, a self-described white nationalist, faces murder charges for the deaths of Namkai-Meche of Portland and Ricky John Best of Happy Valley. Micah David-Cole Fletcher was seriously injured in the attack. Christian's trial is scheduled for January.
Namkai-Meche, Best and Fletcher intervened on May 26, 2017, as Christian shouted and harassed two teenage girls, one wearing a hijab, for more than 10 minutes during an afternoon ride on a Green Line train as it rolled away from the Rose Quarter Transit Center. In the confrontation, police say Christian stabbed all three in the head and neck with a folding pocket knife. Namkai-Meche was stabbed five times.
Christian jumped off the train at the Hollywood Transit Center and ran into the neighborhood. Passengers chased him and he was arrested by police officers responding to the stabbing.
Best was a U.S. Army veteran who worked for the city's Bureau of Development Services. Namkai-Meche worked as an environmental economic analyst for a local company.
"All defendants had actual and/or constructive knowledge of Mr. Christian and his violent propensities before the events of May 26, 2017, because he had terrorized passengers on its train system on multiple occasions in the past," according to the lawsuit.
In addition to more than $10 million in damages, Alaya-Maitreya's lawsuit asked the court to direct TriMet and Portland police to evaluate security on light-rail trains, set a standard for passenger safety, improve response times for Transit Police and other officers and better train TriMet staff to deal with unruly passengers.