CLEVELAND, Ohio- Michael Evans, Jr. of Cleveland said he was on his way to his mother’s house Saturday on board RTA bus no. 30, taking his children to their grandmother’s when he became involved in a confrontation with bus driver, Chaz Seals.
Video first aired by FOX 8 News on Tuesday shows Evans moving toward the front of the bus and standing near the doorway as it approached a stop near East 156th and Lakeshore.
Evans said his stop was next.
As a woman with a baby stroller entered the bus, Seals asked Evans to move back to give her more room.
On the video he is overheard making the request not once, but three times.
Each time Evans refused, insisting she had enough room to get past him.
Evans spoke exclusively to FOX 8 News on Wednesday saying he got mad because the bus driver raised his voice.
“There was enough room for this girl to get by with her stroller period, point blank, it was enough room for her to get by. I’m trying to get off the bus with my children you know, that was my whole thing," said Evans.
On the video, Seals is seen standing up from his driver’s seat and calling RTA police to report that he has a violent passenger as Evans' temper flares.
Evans is seen taking off his coat and handing it to one of his children as the confrontation escalates.
“It seemed to me like he was getting agitated just like i was so if he tried anything I wanted to be prepared,” said Evans.
When asked if it was possible the driver felt threatened by him, Evans told FOX 8, “I don’t know what he felt. I know what I felt and when he stood up I felt threatened by him.”
As the two men continue to exchange words, Seals is overheard telling Evans to get off the bus. Evans is then seen approaching Seals one more time, pointing his finger in the driver’s face and the confrontation becomes physical.
“When asked if he touched Seals when he put his finger in his face, Evans said, “No, I did not touch him. I was close to his face but I did not touch him.”
He insisted Seals grabbed him first; then after the two men struggled for a few minutes, Evans said the driver “sucker-punched” him as he was getting off the bus.
Evans said he turned around to make sure his children were behind him as he was getting off the bus and that’s when he was punched.
RTA told Fox 8 News on Tuesday that the driver followed protocol which requires them to stop the bus, call police, and try to get other passengers off of the bus safely if there was a violent passenger on board.
Evans also spoke with RTA investigators on Wednesday. They told Fox 8 he was cooperative with them.
But after viewing the unedited bus video with FOX 8 News, Evans admitted that he could have handled the situation differently.
“Looking back I wish that I would have not pointed my finger at his face like that and that I just would have said forget him when he stood up,” said Evans.
“I should have held my control better than that, especially with my children there, you know. Once I saw him getting irritated, instead of taking off my coat, I should have got off the bus right then and there,” he continued.
“What I think I’m wrong about is pointing my finger at his face and just not getting off the bus when I saw him stand up. That’s what I think I was wrong about. As far as me telling him not to be yelling at me, I feel I have every right,” said Evans.