A $3 million bail was set Tuesday for a Chicago Transit Authority employee charged with aggravated battery in the beating of a 54-year-old man at a Blue Line station who later died. The attack, prosecutors said, lasted nearly an hour and was captured entirely on surveillance video.
“We hear things in this building every day of violent nature,” Cook County Judge Barbara Dawkins said at the bond hearing. “But this shocks the conscience — throwing a person over a railing … kicking him without provocation, grabbing him by the hood, dragging him — the list goes on and on.”
CTA customer service assistant Emmett Richardson, 39, of the Douglas neighborhood on the South Side, had been a CTA employee for a little over two years at the time of the attack at the LaSalle Blue Line station Saturday. Transit agency records show an employee by the name of Emmet Richardson.
[ CTA employee charged with battery after alleged Blue Line beating, death ]
At the bond hearing Tuesday, prosecutors said that at approximately 2:05 a.m. Saturday, the 54-year-old man arrived at the train station in 150 W. Congress Pkwy. He was pushing a wheelchair with property, stumbling around and sometimes on the ground on the platform, until 3:17 a.m.
At that time, video surveillance captured the man apparently sleeping with his legs on the ground and his torso resting on the seat of the wheelchair. It was then that prosecutors said Richardson arrived and engaged with the man “in a violent manner.”
“At no point is the victim seen trying to defend himself or, more significantly, engage with the defendant,” Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said at the bond hearing. “The defendant can be observed kicking the wheelchair multiple times, causing the victim to completely fall to the floor.”
Richardson then went up the elevator and back down. He then allegedly shoved the 54-year-old onto the escalator and followed him up to the mezzanine area. Once there, Richardson allegedly tried to pull the man by his foot but lost his balance and almost fell.
Prosecutors said that at that point, Richardson “became even more visibly irate.”
“He rushed at the victim, yanking and pushing him over the railing at the top of the escalator, causing the victim to land on his back,” Scaduto said. “The defendant is then seen on the video surveillance grabbing the victim by his hood.”
Richardson “violently” yanked the hood of the man’s jacket, prosecutors said, dragging him across the floor and toward the top of an 11-step stairwell. He then allegedly pushed the man down the stairs. Richardson then kept leaving and coming back, on two occasions, prosecutors said, pouring bottles of water on the man lying at the bottom of the stairs.
Scaduto said Richardson then propped the man up against the railing into a seating position and struck him in the head and face multiple times. Richardson then allegedly pulled the man by his foot, causing him to fall down a second flight of stairs. At that point, prosecutors said, the man was completely motionless.
During the next several minutes, prosecutors said, Richardson left and came back multiple times, repositioning the other man’s body.
An unidentified woman then arrived and spoke with Richardson briefly, though surveillance video did not capture audio of their conversation, prosecutors said. In the video, Richardson can be seen gesturing toward the stairwell, at which point the woman walked over and peered below to where the man was lying motionless. She then left the mezzanine area, and was not present at the scene when the Chicago Police Department arrived.
Richardson then called 911 to report an unresponsive but breathing man at the bottom of a stairwell at the station. The Chicago Fire Department located the man’s body upon arrival. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
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The Cook County medical examiner’s office has not publicly identified the man because his next of kin have yet to be notified of his death. The medical examiner’s office had also not revealed the cause of the man’s death, citing pending toxicology studies.
Police officers on scene spoke with Richardson, who identified himself by name and said that at about 3:40 a.m., he had been doing a platform track check when he saw the man sitting on a wheelchair, surrounded by drug paraphernalia. Prosecutors noted no drug paraphernalia was observed on video or found when police arrived.
Prosecutors said Richardson claimed the man had overdosed and did not say he touched or attacked the victim. He told officers he was assisting the man up the stairs when he lost consciousness and collapsed.
A witness, a customer service manager for the CTA, who has known Richardson for 10 months told authorities they have issued him a couple of verbal warnings for his treatment of customers and attitude issues, prosecutors said. The witness identified Richardson in the surveillance video.
Richardson’s attorney said he is a lifelong resident of Cook County, regularly volunteers in his community and neighborhood doing food drives for homeless people.
“I can’t ignore that at 3:15 this man is on video, alive (and) at 4:30 a.m., he was pronounced dead,” the judge said. “I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out how he died.”