TTC rider charged after driver allegedly punched him over N-word
Toronto transit spokesman won't confirm whether the driver has been suspended
A 60-year-old man has been charged with assault with a weapon — a golf umbrella — after a TTC bus driver allegedly punched him in the face this week for harassing him and calling him a n--ger.
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Const. Jeniffer Sidhu, a Toronto police spokeswoman, confirmed the passenger was charged following the Tuesday incident.
The man, of no fixed address, appeared in court Wednesday.
The driver has been suspended with pay, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Canada said. Bob Kinnear said the union is still concerned over the suspension, considering no charges have been laid against him.
"It would seem from our perspective that Toronto police are satisfied that our operator hadn't done anything wrong," he said Friday. "We hope that, at the end of the day, the TTC recognizes the challenges that our operators face … My understanding is that the verbal abuse that this operator was taking was just unbelievable."
TTC spokesman Brad Ross would not comment on whether the employee was still on the job.
He told CBC News that the transit commission has handed over CCTV footage of the altercation to police and they are reviewing it.
Taunted throughout the ride
The incident began on the 198 bus travelling from Kennedy Station to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to an account posted online Reddit user and a police report.
The packed bus meant that several people were standing near the front and the passenger in question kept verbally abusing the driver, Rocker007 wrote.
"You could clearly tell this guy was high on something," the alleged witness wrote. "Finally we got to Morningside [Avenue] and the guy gets off the bus and turns around and says something like 'f--- you n--ger.' The driver just flipped out.
"This guy basically humiliated him for the last 20 minutes and now called him the N-word."
Witness account 'appears to be accurate'
The driver then allegedly got off the bus and chased down the passenger.
The pair struggled and "finally the driver punched [the other man] right in the face ... He was bleeding and out of it," according to the witness's account.
Ross confirmed to CBC that the version of events online "appears to be accurate."
There are typically four cameras on a bus. None are forward-facing, but they do have peripheral coverage that should capture what's happening just outside the bus, Ross said.
Ross said the cameras record high-quality video, but will not capture sound.
The TTC will wait until the police wrap up their investigation before deciding what to do within the organization, Ross said.
Someone alerted transit control about what was happening, but Ross said it's unclear at what point during the drive that happened.
1 driver assaulted, threatened each day
On average, at least one TTC driver gets assaulted or threatened every day, both Ross and Kinnear told CBC News.
Kinnear said that while most passengers are polite, there's always the "one per cent" who cause trouble.
"Unfortunately when you're carrying 1.5 million passengers, one per cent equates to a lot of people," he said. "I think that with seeing it so often there's become this acceptance of it. So, most often, other passengers do nothing."