Transportation workers and prosecutors are furious about the mildness of a court’s recent sentence for a Bronx man who randomly assaulted a bus driver and received no jail time.
Bronx Supreme Court judge John Carter sentenced the 32-year-old Fernando Lopez to five years probation, though he pled guilty in May to attacking bus driver Jose Rondon, according to the NY Daily News.
Lopez admitted to assaulting Rondon unprovoked in the middle of a day last summer, leaving the bus driver with a broken nose and two black eyes.
“I just went up to him and punched him,” Lopez said, according to court records.
The random attack may have been tied to Lopez’s use of PCP — a drug which typically induces hallucinations and encourages violent behavior in abusers. After the trial, Lopez said he had felt threatened by Rondon when he was on the bus before the attack.
Transit workers hold a particular “protected status” under state law, and citizens who assault bus drivers can receive up to seven years in prison for the crime.
About 90 bus drivers have suffered physical assaults every year for the past three years.
Frank Austin, the division chairman of the Transport Workers Union Local 100, said he was angered by the verdict.
“We’re very upset — justice wasn’t done,” Austin said.
The union’s recording secretary, LaTonya Crisp-Sauray, also expressed her disapproval at the sentence’s lack of gravity.
“My heart is deeply saddened,” Crisp-Sauray said. “As a bus operator, I understand how it feels to fit in that seat. Now, this guy is going to be allowed to get on another bus and do this again to another operator.”
Sources: NY Daily News