Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Assault Caught on Bus Camera - Pittsburgh

Port Authority police handled more than 50 violent incidents involving transit drivers and passengers over the past five years, and records show drivers were the alleged victims in almost all cases.

But authority police say driver Anthony DiDolce, 47, of Coraopolis was the aggressor in a fight on a bus about 9:30 p.m. Friday in the North Side. It was at least the second incident this year in which police charged a driver with assaulting a rider.

"This is not normal," said Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie. "This is an unusual incident that's very concerning to us."

Video captured on a bus camera shows DiDolce shoved rider John Donahue, 28, of Garfield before punching him seven times and kicking him six times in a span of 2 minutes, 20 seconds, authority police said. The authority did not release copies of the video.

Police said Donahue was seated when the altercation began; he was in a fetal position on the bus floor when it ended. He never got to his feet.

What set off DiDolce?

"I pulled to the bus shelter (in Allegheny Center) and looked in my mirror and saw (Donahue) sleeping at the back of the bus. I then went back to wake him up and he jumped from the seat and charged at me while cussing," DiDolce told authority officers, according to a criminal complaint filed to support charges against him.

The account from Donahue, who told police he was drinking earlier: "I am not sure (what happened). I don't even remember getting on the bus."

DiDolce, who could not be reached for comment, was arrested Monday by authority police on charges of aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, harassment and making false reports to police. He was released after posting $15,000 bond.

Donahue was treated at a Veterans Affairs hospital after the altercation. He could not be reached Tuesday.

Ritchie said DiDolce, an authority driver since 2003, is suspended with pay during an administrative investigation.

Police last filed assault charges against a driver in February. Thomas Jett III, 43, of Verona allegedly fought with a rider who spit in his face after refusing to pay a fare. Prosecutors agreed to drop charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct if Jett completed an anger-management course. The rider, Samon Bradley, then 20, of Braddock pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

Patrick McMahon, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, did not return calls seeking comment.