PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The families of the two men who were fatally stabbed by Jeremy Christian on a MAX train in Portland in 2017 are asking for the public’s help identifying the people who pressed the train’s intercom button in the minutes before the stabbings occurred.
They’re also interested in speaking to anyone who interacted with Christian in the 48 hours before the attack.
Christian was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and assault in February 2020 and is now in prison.
The families of Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche both filed wrongful death lawsuits against TriMet, the city of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau in 2019. The plaintiffs accuse the defendants of not having adequate security measures in place on the MAX trains, for failing to seriously address Christian’s violent outbursts in the days leading up to the attack, and in failing to take measures to protect passengers from Christian.
On May 26, 2017, according to witnesses who testified at Christian’s trial and police reports, Christian was riding a MAX train and began shouting racist hate speech toward people on the train, including two teenage girls. One of the girls was African American and the other was Muslim and was wearing a hijab at the time.
Witnesses said other passengers on the train intervened to try and de-escalate the situation. Those passengers were Taliesin Namkai-Meche, Micah Fletcher and Ricky Best.
Christian was armed with a knife and stabbed Fletcher, Best and Namkai-Meche. The attack was recorded on camera and shown during Christian’s trial.
Best and Namkai-Meche died from their injuries. Fletcher was seriously injured but survived.
In the days before the murders, the lawsuit filed by the estate of Ricky Best said Christian was seen “ranting and swearing for over an hour” at the Portland Saturday Market.
On May 25, 2017, the day before the murders, the lawsuit said Christian boarded a MAX train and began yelling racist comments and hate speech. The lawsuit said he made threats of physical violence and death against African Americans, Jews, Mexicans, Japanese and Muslim People.
Demetria Hester, a Black woman who was in the MAX train car at the time, testified at Christian’s trial and said she asked him to lower his voice. Christian then began shouting at Hester. Hester said she tried to notify the operator about the dangerous situation and then got off the train at the Rose Quarter Station to transfer to another line.
TriMet surveillance video showed that Christian followed Hester off the train, lunged at her and struck her in the eye with a bottle. Hester sprayed Christian in the face with mace in self-defense.
Two TriMet supervisors who were on the platform at the time saw some, if not all, of the attack but did nothing to help Hester or restrain Christian, the lawsuit said.
A Portland police officer arrived at the Rose Quarter Transit Station about 20 minutes after the attack, while Hester and Christian were still there, the lawsuit said.
“Although the Portland Police officer was informed by the TriMet supervisor and Hester of the incident and talked to both Hester and Christian, and even though Christian was identified as the attacker, no action was taken to arrest, deter, prevent, sanction, or otherwise address Christian’s offensive behavior or criminal conduct,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, the Portland Police Bureau was also aware of Christian’s criminal history and other altercations.
However, the lawsuit the Best and Namkai-Meche families filed against TriMet and Portland is still pending. A news release issued by their attorneys Tuesday announced that the civil suits have been consolidated into a single case.
Anyone with information about the people who pressed the train’s passenger emergency intercom button in the minutes before the stabbings, or who interacted with Christian in the 48 hours before the murders is asked to email email@example.com. That’s an email address for the office of the Smith Foster King Limited Liability Partnership.
KOIN 6 News requested a statement from TriMet about the lawsuit. TriMet responded and said it does not comment on active litigation.