Family of Oakland stabbing victim Nia Wilson suing BART


The family of Nia Wilson, the 18-year-old who was fatally stabbed at the MacArthur BART station on July 22, is suing the transit agency.

According to Arns Law Firm, who is filing the lawsuit on behalf of the Wilson family, the suit alleges “BART failed to meet the duty of common carriers to provide riders with the highest standard of care.”

Nia along with her sister Lahtifa were boarding a BART train at the MacArthur station when the suspect, John Lee Cowell, fatally slashed Nia across the neck and stabbed Lahtifa soon afterward. 

BART police called it an “unprovoked, unwarranted, vicious attack” on Nia, who died at the scene. 

Her sister Lahtifa was taken to a hospital for treatment. She is now recovering. 

The lawsuit alleges Cowell, who was arrested later the next day while riding a BART train in Pleasanton, “should never have been permitted to enter the BART system, he should have been stopped at the turnstile on Sunday and on Monday, and his crime was foreseeable and preventable.” 

BART police officials also said Cowell had a history of fare evasion in the past. 

According to the law firm, public records show more than 22,000 illegally enter BART daily, costing over $25 million in lost revenue a year. 

Regarding safety, BART says the following on its website: 

“Safety and security are a primary focus at BART — we work hard every day to ensure your ride is trouble-free. We constantly upgrade and improve our security measures […].”

The lawsuit alleges BART failed to meet this standard. 

“The lawsuit will demand BART to take corporate responsibility by admitting that BART is not a safe place for any passenger, and admitting that BART will make necessary changes with BART security to protect passenger,” the law firm said. 

The law firm is prompting BART to take the following actions: 

  • Catch fare evaders in the act
  • Provide accurate and up to date information to the public about criminal activity on the system and at each station 
  • Implement policies and deploy personnel to effectively deter crime

A memorial service for Nia will be held Friday, Aug. 3 at 11 a.m. in Oakland. 



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