Surveillance video of violent Muni altercation

March 2, 2009 6:33:46 PM PST
The I-Team now has a clearer picture of what led up to a violent confrontation between a Muni bus driver and a passenger last month. Two weeks ago, the I-Team showed video a passenger took at the end of the confrontation -- the driver standing over the passenger, a hand on his neck. Now the I-Team has used the Sunshine Ordinance to obtain the surveillance video from the bus, and it shows the entire story.

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Just before the violent confrontation, you catch glimpses of the two major players aboard the 33 outbound heading up Ashbury Street.

Raw surveillance video

Muni driver Robert Thompson, frustrated at the size of the crowd on his bus and an unnamed passenger -- the driver thinks he's under the influence, but he's coherent enough to offer his seat to a woman.

Passenger: "Please sit down. I'm getting off at the next stop."

Woman: "Thank you."

Passenger: "No problem. Sit down, sit down, sit down."

The bus pulls up at the French school, about 10 young students climb aboard, and the driver urges the crowd to move back.

Driver: "Alright, ladies and gentlemen, there is room in the back. I don't know why you're all so close to me. I don't even like y'all."

Passenger: "Well, you know, we love you."

Driver: "Man, shut up."

Passenger: "Well, don't tell me to shut up."

Driver: "Hey, hey, hey, I don't need you drunk behind talking, alright."

Passenger: "I don't need your stupid driving either."

Driver: "Get off the bus."

Passenger: "Yeah, I'll get off the bus, 'cause--"

Driver: "I don't take hearing that."

Passenger: "You're stupid. You're an ignorant f***ing mess."

Driver: "Yeah, whatever, step off the bus."

Passenger: "I'll step off the bus, ignorant."

The passenger steps down to the door. The driver issues a threat and the passenger answers with one of his own.

Driver: "Go on, bro or else I'm going to drop you like a bad habit."

Passenger: "Yeah well, come off, come outside the bus. Come outside the bus. Come outside the bus and talk."

Driver: "Move down some."

Passenger: "Ass****. "F**** you. I'll kill you, man. Come outside the bus."

The driver rushes off the bus at the passenger. From this point, a clearer angle comes from video shot by a passenger who does not want to be identified. You see the Muni driver standing over the man. Another passenger tries to calm down the driver.

Witness: "The old man is like on the ground and the Muni driver has his hand around his neck."

The man on the ground tries to get up. The driver won't let him and cocks his arm as if to punch. Remember, there are children on the bus taking it all in. You can hear a woman trying to keep them calm.

Passenger: "Those are the peacemakers. Those guys who are talking, these guys are peacemakers."

A woman who was on the bus tries to intervene. The driver apparently tells her to take her hand off his shoulder and then lets the man up. He continues his tirade and hurls racial epithets at the driver.

No matter how you see the incident, whose side you take, Muni says the bus driver violated a basic policy.

"We do not in any way condone our operators leaving the vehicle, especially if there's any kind of confrontation with a customer," said MTA spokesman Judson True.

The driver was taken off the street two weeks ago after the I-Team first informed Muni about the incident. The investigation is underway.

You can watch the entire surveillance video in a new I-Team blog here, as well as in the media player on this page. Warning ? it's the raw video, with no bleeps.

Previous I-Team reports:

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