A Chicago Transit Authority bus driver says his arrest and the criminal charges brought against him are just more examples of the police harassment he's been subjected to since he filed a lawsuit claiming he was beaten by an off-duty officer.
"Ever since this incident began, he's been calling and saying that he's been seeing police near his residence," said the driver's colleague, Marvin Jacobs.
Ricardo Mendoza sued for $1 million following the Sept. 12 incident, in which he alleges he pulled up his Route 62 Archer Line bus to the stop at State and Monroe. There, he said an officer stormed on board and assaulted him.
"He's scared to come outside the house. He cannot work. The man is totally afraid. He's a wreck right now," said union spokesman Darnell Jefferson.
Surveillance video on board the bus shows the officer, reportedly angry after the bike he was riding was almost struck by the bus, board the bus and approach Mendoza. The video doesn't show any contact between the driver and the cop.
But Chicago police aren't buying Mendoza's story, and they say he's lied about the attack and the nature of his injuries. He was arrested last week by officers in four police cars and arrested for obstruction of justice and filing a false police report.
"Mendoza continually escalated the nature of his injuries, claiming he was punched about the face head and shoulders, even losing consciousness after the alleged attack," Cook County State's Attorney's Office spokeswoman Sally Daly said in a statement.
Daly said analysis of the video and interviews with witnesses on the bus lead prosecutors to believe there was no physical contact between the officer and Mendoza.
Police Supt. Jody Weis on Tuesday applauded the charges, saying they send a powerful message to anyone attempting to cheat the criminal justice system, especially public employees.
Mendoza's union, Local 241 of the Amalgamated Transit Workers, said the allegations are completely untrue.
"He's intimidated and he's afraid that he'll be arrested again. He was simply doing his job and he was attacked. It was unprovoked and it was brutal," Jacobs said.