Union Supports Charged RTA Driver

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*** Warning: Video may be considered disturbing ***

CLEVELAND – An RTA bus driver is charged with assault for an uppercut to a hostile passenger that was caught on video and went viral.

Artis Hughes, 59, is charged with misdemeanor assault for the punch.

The passenger, Shidea Lane, 25, is charged with disorderly conduct.

According to the police report and witness statements, Lane spit on the driver and grabbed him around the throat while he was driving the bus.

That has some people thinking she should be facing an assault charge, too.

"In my opinion, I think so," said William Matthews, who was on the bus, sitting in the front seat and witnessed the confrontation, which he says, went on for about two miles.

"Choking them while driving a public transportation full of people? I guess that's what disorderly conduct is," Matthews said in disbelief.

It happened a month ago, on a No. 5 RTA bus in Beachwood.

Witnesses told police it started when Lane said she didn’t have the bus fare and Hughes told her to pay or exit the bus.

The video shows it escalated when Lane first reached for Hughes while he was operating the bus filled with people.

Hughes then pulled the bus over and stopped it, then got out of his seat and delivered the uppercut which knocked Lane to the ground.

The charges were based on a report by RTA police.

Lane declined Fox 8's request for an interview on Thursday.

In a previous interview with Fox 8 News, Lane was willing to talk about the punch she received, but not her role in the confrontation.

"I can't answer that question. I'm sorry," Lane said on Oct. 10.

Fox 8 News left a message for Hughes, but he did not return the call.

"He has a right to defend himself," said William Nix, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 268, to which Hughes belongs.

Nix said they stand behind Hughes and are disappointed he is being prosecuted.

"If somebody spit on you, that's an assault. If somebody hit you, that's an assault. You have a right to defend yourself," Nix said.

Lane’s court date is set for Nov. 6.

Hughes’ court date has not yet been determined.

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