CLEVELAND -- It's been a tough couple of weeks for Artis Hughes, a former bus driver with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.
"It felt like a knife stabbing me in the heart. For something that you have done for so long," said Hughes.
Hughes was fired Tuesday morning after a viral video surfaced last month of Hughes delivering an uppercut back in September to an unruly passenger.
"It's been extremely disappointing that despite the amount of years I have given this company that they would turn their back on me the way that they did. I have a false sense of security when I am on that bus. And there's no protection," said Hughes.
Video shot from a different angle appears to show the woman, Shi’dea Lane, 25, assaulting him first. She is charged with disorderly conduct.
Hughes claims that his actions were in self-defense, but the RTA didn't agree.
"We expect our employees to diffuse any potential situation. We do not believe that Mr. Hughes took the proper steps to diffuse this situation. The proper procedure would have been to pull over and stop the bus, then call Transit Police for assistance," said the RTA in a statement Tuesday.
Hughes thinks the RTA should go beyond an operator’s manual and form a program to train operators how to deal with physical situations.
"I could have been stabbed in the neck. I was just lucky she didn't have anything in her hands. And I wonder, are you waiting for someone to die? Are you waiting for someone to lose their life before you put these things into place?" said Hughes.
In the meantime, Hughes is filing a grievance with his union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 268.
"After so many years of being called certain names, things thrown at you, eggs thrown at you, bricks thrown at you, spit at you, you get tired of that. You kick a dog long enough, it's going to bite you," said Hughes.
Hughes worked for the RTA for 25 years and is concerned about losing his pension.
"My heart is broken. But when I see all the support I've had, it makes me believe there are good people out there. Because I don't consider myself a bad person. Just a person that wanted to do his job and was defending himself," said Hughes.