Suit Accuses Cop of Beating CTA Driver

Union says other officers should have intervened sooner

By BJ Lutz and Natalie Martinez
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 7:21 PM CDT
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Sept. 24, 2009: A CTA bus driver claims he was beaten by an off-duty Chicago police sergeant.

Sept. 24, 2009: A CTA bus driver claims he was beaten by an off-duty Chicago police sergeant.

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The beating itself is blocked from view by a divider behind the driver, but a surveillance camera aboard a CTA bus is alleged to have recorded an attack on a bus driver by an off-duty police sergeant. The driver is now suing the city of Chicago for more than $1 million.

Ricardo Mendoza was driving the bus southbound at about 9:20 p.m. on Sept. 12. and stopped at State and Monroe.  He said an angry Thomas O'Grady boarded the bus and punched him in the head, arms, torso and back. Mendoza said his glasses were broken in the process.

O'Grady was not in uniform, relieved of police powers due to an unrelated incident.

Two uniformed police officers who had boarded the bus just a few minutes earlier broke up the assault.

The complaint was detailed at a Thursday press conference, and alleges that O'Grady rode along the left side of the bus and went to the front as if he was going to use the bus' bike rack. Instead, O'Grady threw his bike on the sidewalk near several pedestrians and boarded the bus.

"I was assaulted. Somehow he said I almost killed him," Mendoza is heard in a 911 call.

The Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents CTA bus drivers, estimates the beating lasted from five and 10 seconds and should have been broken up by the officers on board sooner.

"We feel the attack against Mr. Mendoza was brutal and violent and also a violation of his civil rights," said Derrell Jefferson, president of the ATU Local 241, at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Union leaders are not just asking for O'Grady's termination, but also justice for their employees.

"It's the responsibility of the Chicago Police Department to serve and protect, not beat and mistreat," Jefferson said.

Chicago police said its detective division and the Independent Police Review Authority are investigating the incident.

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