Police: Saugus man put MBTA driver in choke hold
SAUGUS, Mass (WHDH) -- Police say a passenger on an MBTA bus put the driver in a choke hold, putting other passengers’ lives in danger.
Police say 59-year-old Franco Contino from Saugus choked the bus driver for no reason.
"Physically began strangling the bus driver,” said Deputy Chief Lenehan, Transit Police.
Contino says the bus driver was going too fast and could have hurt people.
"That he was going too fast, and he was slamming on to the brakes too hard. That's all I was trying to say to the guy, so in not so many words he goes and tells me to ‘f’ myself,” said Contino.
That's when Contino admits, at the bus stop in Saugus next to Kane's Donuts, he lost his temper.
"I'm wrong for that, and probably going to regret it in more ways than one. But that doesn't take away from the fact that he's no angel himself,” said Contino.
"All the statements indicate that the bus driver was in his seat just trying to do his job,” said Deputy Chief Lenehan.
According to the MBTA, there were 28 reported assaults on “T” employees this year already.
A new safety plan will equip more buses with video cameras and install partitions to separate drivers from passengers.
The "T" is also posting signs to make sure riders think twice before touching a driver.
Police say luckily in this case, another man jumped in and pulled the attacker off the driver, or the bus could have rolled into traffic. Contino is now facing charges for assaulting a public employee.
"We ask people to see something, say something -- but he actually saw something but also did something,” Deputy Chief Lenehan said.
"I got a headlock from behind. If this guy wanted to hurt me, I think he could. He just wanted to make sure I got off the guy and left. So I believe the guy did a good thing,” said Contino.
The MBTA is also pushing for legislation at the State House to strengthen the law.