A former Chicago Transit Authority bus driver was found not guilty Tuesday on charges he lied about being attacked by an off-duty Chicago Police sergeant two years ago.
But although 43-year Ricardo Mendoza was cleared, Cook County Judge James Linn lambasted him and called him "selfish and greedy" for filing a federal lawsuit against the city.
"None of this needs to be in court," Linn said, referencing Mendoza’s criminal case and apparently the $1 million he was seeking in his pending civil suit.
Linn made it clear he didn’t believe Sgt. Thomas O’Grady necessarily roughed up Mendoza.
"I don’t believe he [O’Grady] wanted to batter and beat him," Linn said. "He may have wanted to give him a piece of his mind."
Mendoza said he pulled up his Route 62 Archer Line bus to the stop at State and Monroe on Sept. 12, 2009. 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, but it doesn't show any contact between the driver and the cop.
The suit claimed O'Grady "savagely" beat and punched Mendoza.
Chicago police didn't buy Mendoza's story, and they alleged he lied about the attack and the nature of his injuries.
Mendoza initially told investigators that O’Grady also poked him in the eye. But later, Mendoza told authorities he was punched in the face, head and shoulders and had lost consciousness, prosecutors said.
He was arrested about two months after the incident and charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice, a move that Mendoza said was continued harassment by the police department.
Linn said Tuesday it appeared as if the events blew out proportion as "egos flared" as supervisors became involved.
During the bench trial surveillance video was also shown.
Mendoza’s attorney Steven Muslin called his client’s acquittal "good news."
Mendoza said he was terminated from the CTA in light of his arrest.
"I just take it day by day," he said.
Mendoza refused further comment, citing his pending federal lawsuit.