The Washington Post

Metro’s ‘banana peel man’ to undergo evaluation

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 tale of the District Heights resident dubbed Metro’s “banana peel man” is expected to run into April after a judge ordered him to undergo additional psychological screening.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Anita Josey-Herring said last week that Maurice Owens, 42, should go through more of a mental health examination.

The judge scheduled a hearing for April 22 to review the findings and “determine whether he is competent to participate” in court proceedings, according to Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C.

Owens earned the nickname in the summer after he claimed to have slipped on a banana peel in a Metro elevator. But the story proved to be questionable because Metro’s security cameras — inside the elevator — caught the entire incident on tape.

As told by Owens to Metro Transit Police, he was riding an elevator at the Potomac Avenue Metro stop, Aug. 8, 2013, when he slipped on a banana peel as he was getting off, injuring his hip and leg. Owens sued the transit agency for $15,000 — in part to cover $4,500 in chiropractor bills.

But Metro’s tape showed something quite different.

On video, Owens is 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 the video, which is about 90 seconds long, Owens is seen looking into the camera at least three times.

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.”

Owens then falls to the ground — half his body inside the elevator.

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

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.



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Dana Hedgpeth · February 25, 2014

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