Homeless man faces charges in T station assault

A homeless man was released on his own recognizance today on assault charges after he allegedly punched a woman in the chest and pulled her off the counter she was sitting on in an MBTA station, prosecutors said.

Steven Colla, 51, was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Judge Michael Coyne released Colla on his own recognizance and ordered him to have no contact with the victim. He is due back in court Dec. 30, the Suffolk district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Prosecutors had asked for bail to be set at $10,000, the statement said.

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District Attorney Daniel F. Conley assigned a senior prosecutor to review the case for potential prosecution as a civil rights violation as well as physical assault, the statement said.

On Sept. 16 at about 3 p.m., Colla was standing on the Red Line platform at Downtown Crossing Station. A 21-year-old Dorchester woman asked him if he could move and make room for her to sit on a counter in the station. When Colla refused to move, she jumped onto the counter, anyway, the statement said.

Colla allegedly told the woman she could not sit there, used a racial epithet, punched her in the chest, and dragged her off the counter by her ankle, the statement said.

The woman fell onto the platform and hit her head. After the attack, Colla boarded a Braintree-bound train, the statement said.

Surveillance video captured the assault. From those images, and a description of Colla given by the victim, police were able to identify and arrest him. The victim also positively identified Colla in a photo array, the statement said.

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