A Florida bus driver’s “egregious and abhorrent level of misconduct” toward a passenger who repeatedly hurled the n-word at him has cost him his job.
An African-American Palm Tran driver knocked a man unconscious earlier this year after suffering nearly 15 minutes of racist taunts and attacks, local station CBS 12 reported. Surveillance video of the May 13 incident shows the driver confront the unruly passenger as he loudly spewed threatening and derogatory remarks.
“You call me n— one more time! You call me n—– one more time and I’m gonna (inaudible) your (expletive)!” the Palm Tran driver shouted.
The driver then throws several punches after the passenger, who is white, spits on him. He hits the man so hard that he knocks him unconscious, leaving him on the floor motionless for several minutes.
“Emotionally the driver lost it, and reacted in self-defense as well as reacted to being spit upon,” said Dwight Mattingly, president of the local bus driver’s union.
According to CBS 12, the incident reportedly began as a dispute over bus fare that quickly escalated. It was the second fight involving a driver and a passenger in just two months.
On Aug. 6, the driver said he received a letter from Palm Tran decrying his behavior as “egregious and abhorrent.” The driver was fired but union members say he didn’t deserve it.
“I think there’s no place in our society for that use of language and I think anybody’s gonna have a reaction after being spat upon and racially degraded,” Mattingly told the station.
The union argued that re-training and a less-severe form of punishment would suffice for the driver’s actions, but Palm Tran said his behavior was “intolerable” and out of line with the company’s mission of accommodating everyone “safely and courteously.”
The union may appeal the driver’s dismissal.
Watch more in the video below.