Judge orders Metro’s ‘banana peel man’ to have a psychological screening

Authorities charged Maurice Owens after investigators say he faked an injury on a Metro elevator after tossing a banana peel to the floor. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The District Heights man dubbed Metro’s “banana peel man” was ordered to undergo a psychological screening Tuesday by a D.C. Superior Court judge.

Judge Anita Josey-Herring ordered Maurice Owens, 42, for the screening based on a request from his attorney, Henry Escoto.

Owens slipped into notoriety last summer when he sued Metro after claiming he fell on a banana peel. Owens told Metro police he was riding an elevator at the Potomac Avenue Metro station Aug. 8, 2013, when he slipped on a banana peel as he was getting off, injuring his hip and leg. The District Heights man sued the transit agency for $15,000 — in part to cover $4,500 in chiropractor bills.

But the whole incident was caught on videotape — and it showed something different.

On the video, Owens could be seen going into an empty elevator at the station.

He paces around a bit, then glances up into the elevator’s camera. More pacing. Another glance at the camera. In fact, in the video, which is about 90 seconds long, Owens is seen looking into the camera at least three times.

Toward the end of the video, as the elevator doors open, Owens can be seen flipping something onto the floor behind him. According to a Metro Transit Police report, “this object was later identified as a banana peel.”

In a dramatic gesture, Owens falls to the ground — half his body inside the elevator.

His claim against Metro was thrown out, and Owens, 42, was charged with second-degree fraud, a felony. Owens is considering a plea deal from prosecutors that would reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

Owens is scheduled to return to court Friday.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.
Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.
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