RTA bus driver suspended after video surfaces of him uppercutting female bus passenger

CLEVELAND - A wild and violent video has gotten a Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority bus driver suspended -- but riders on the bus are on the driver's side.

In the video that was first posted on WorldStarHipHop.com and has gone viral on YouTube, the driver is seen arguing with a female passenger, then punching and throwing her from the bus. The frenzy continues with the two fighting again and other passengers attempting to stop them.

[Warning: Video contains explicit language and violence]

(If accessing via mobile, click here to watch the video: http://on.wews.com/Rmrz3s )

RTA issued the following statement Friday afternoon regarding the incident:

RTA saw the video posted on YouTube of the operator incident on October 11. Through the investigation, we believe the incident occurred on Sept. 18. Upon identifying the driver, he was immediately suspended and removed from duty. His behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Later Friday afternoon, RTA released the police report taken after the incident, which reveals more details about what happened that afternoon.

According to the report, the driver, 59-year-old Artis Hughes of East Cleveland, told officers he picked up several riders at about 3:55 p.m. on Sept, 18. at the Van Aken / Warrensville transit station. One woman who boarded, 25-year-old Shi' Dea Lane of Cleveland, didn't pay, according to the report. She told the driver she left her bookbag.

After Hughes closed the doors and started driving to the next stop, the police report said Lane then asked, "Are you putting me off the bus? Is this how you treat people in Cleveland?"

Hughes told her to pay her fare and sit down, according to the report. She then started calling him names before paying her fare.

Here is an excerpt from the police report:

"Lane continue to curse at Hughes saying "You a B**** and Your Momma's a B**** Too!" She also stated "Keep talking about me and I will spit on you" While driving Lane grabbed Hughes throat and spit in his face. Hughes stopped the bus and began to protect himself while lane proceed to strike him with her fist. Hughes reached for his cellphone and Lane knocked it out his hands and he pushed her back until Beachwood P.D. arrived." (sic)

Witnesses gave statements to police, describing what they saw during those tense moments on the bus.

Here is one person's account (exactly as written in the report):
"She got on the bus fliping out. She started talking crazy to him he said girl pay your fare or get off the bus. She really got to flipping out really he told her to get off. in from their she was acting crazy. She hit him more than onces and then she spilt on him. So he did what he had to do. She was drunk. Still is she grap his neck why is was driving crazy." (sic)

Another witness agreed Lane was drunk:
"They were going back and forth calling each other names. She said she would sit on him. He said he would slam her if she did. I did not see her spit on him but she hit him and he jumped out of his seat and started fighting her. He choked her and threw her off the bus. She got on the bus and tried to fight him again. Then me and another guy got up and broke it up." (sic)

Records show Hughes, who was listed as the victim on the report, told police seven days after the incident that he did not wish to file charges against Lane.

WEB EXTRA: Read the report here: http://on.wews.com/SQGFhJ

RTA released more information about the status of Hughes, too, saying the suspension is in effect pending the investigation. He and his union president have been notified of the suspension, RTA said.

According to RTA, Lane did not file a report or charges against Hughes at the scene.

RTA's public relations spokeswoman, Mary Shaffer, spoke Friday regarding where RTA is on Hughes' driving status.

"We're taking this very seriously. We're doing a full investigation. As soon as we were alerted to the YouTube video we looked at that, identified the driver and we immediately suspended him and took him off of duty," said Shaffer.

ATU Local 268 president William H. Nix spoke to a WEWS crew outside RTA's conference room Friday before meeting with Artis Hughes and RTA officials.

"The Union's stance is we have a process that we have to go through for our member. They have a four-step process and that's what we have to do at this time, so right now while the investigation is going on and everything we are not at liberty to speak on it at this time," said Nix.

What are your thoughts? Chime in via the comment box below.

Dave Arnold and Mike Waterhouse contributed to this report.

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