Detroit bus driver attacked after telling man with expired pass he could ride for free

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 18:29:05-04

"The passenger punched him in the face and pulled him out the seat and started stomping him," said Fred Westbrook, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, about an attack on one of his members by a passenger on Saturday night. 

Eyewitnesses were able to describe the suspect after he fled on foot, and Detroit police were able to nab him about five blocks away. 

Eric Dashawn Johnson has now been charged with misdemeanor assault. 

The incident took place moments after the 50-year-old DDOT driver picked up Johnson, whose bus pass had reportedly expired or didn't have sufficient funds on it. 

Investigators say the driver told Johnson that his bus pass wasn't any good but that he could still ride and to take a seat. 

A spokesperson for DDOT says Johnson began to yell and argue with their driver. And when the driver pulled over at the next stop, Johnson allegedly launched his attack.

Johnson punched the driver in the face, grabbed him from his seat and pulled him to the bus floor and kicked him before fleeing on foot, according to prosecutors.

Other passengers on the bus were able to give police a good description of the suspect and Johnson was arrested about five blocks away. 

The driver was rushed to Henry Ford Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. 

On Friday, Michigan bus drivers rallied in downtown Detroit to demand major changes including shields around the driver seat that would protect them from assaults.  

Westbrook tells 7 Action News that his members in Detroit need more transit police on the street to assist them when an incident takes place. 

Currently, there are only two transit police patrol cars on the street during each shift with one car on the city's east side and the other patrolling the west side. 

A spokesperson for the city of Detroit says they are actively recruiting to increase the number of officers being assigned to patrol cars. 

Transit officers are also stationed at the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit. 

Johnson's bond was set at $10,000/10% which means he can be released if $1,000 is posted.