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“Even while the child’s blood was still wet on the ground, someone from SEPTA was manipulating the physical evidence,” Common Pleas Judge Frederica A. Massiah-Jackson said yesterday as she fined the transit authority $1 million for contempt of court for its conduct in the lawsuit brought by Shareif Hall, whose foot was torn off by a SEPTA escalator in November 1996.

SEPTA had offered as a defense exhibit a photograph, taken at the scene of the accident, of the then-4-year-old’s black boot with a white shoelace on top of it. The white lace was broken, and SEPTA once claimed that the broken shoelace caused the accident — even though the boot’s black lace was still double-knotted when it was retrieved from the escalator pit.

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