Did you hear the one about the man who slipped on a banana peel on the Metro?
Here's the punchline: After he sued Metro, Metro had him charged with felony fraud.
And here's why: The videotape.
On a Metro surveillance video, the man, identified by The Washington Post as Maurice Owens, is seen riding in an elevator in the Potomac Avenue Metro station. As the door opens, he "slips" on the peel, lunging forward and to the ground as if caught in the mouth by a sports fisherman's hook and pulled ashore.
Claiming his hip and leg had been injured, Owens sued the transit agency for $15,000.
The thing about video, though, is it provides a chance for an official review.
And what the video shows seems clear: Owens can be seen flipping something onto the floor behind him. According to a Metro Transit Police report cited by the Post, “this object was later identified as a banana peel.”
Goodbye lawsuit, hello second-degree fraud, a felony.
“Through our investment in digital camera systems across the system, we are demonstrating our commitment to protecting fare-paying riders and the region’s taxpayers from fraudulent claims,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told the paper.
“What you will see in the camera footage is that the elevator, just prior to Mr. Owens boarding, shows there’s nothing on the floor,” Stessel said. “He is then seen with what appears to be a banana peel in his hand, looking in the direction of the camera.”
In fact, Owen seems keenly aware of the camera, looking at it intently at least three times.
In an interview with Metro officials, Owens had reportedly asked why a custodian for the station had “not cleaned up the banana peel prior to his entering the elevator,” according to the police report cited by the Post.