CTA worker beat, dragged man around downtown station then called police for unresponsive person: prosecutors
CHICAGO - A CTA employee allegedly beat and dragged a man around a downtown station during an hour-long attack early Saturday.
Emmett Richardson, 39, then called 911 to report an unresponsive person on the platform at the LaSalle Street station at 150 W. Congress Parkway, repositioning him several times before making the call, prosecutors said in court Tuesday.
When emergency personnel arrived, Richardson said he had seen the man surrounded by drug paraphernalia and believed the man had overdosed, prosecutors said. The man, 54, was pronounced dead at the station by Chicago Fire Department paramedics.
A subsequent review of surveillance footage at the station soon contradicted Richardson’s story, showing him repeatedly attacking the man, including throwing him down a stairwell "like so much garbage," Assistant States Attorney Lorraine Scaduto told Judge Barbara Dawkins.
Richardson was charged with felony counts of aggravated battery, but prosecutors didn’t say if they were considering additional charge, pending a ruling on the cause and manner of the man’s death by the medical examiner’s office.
Judge Dawkins said it didn’t take "a rocket scientist" to guess that the man’s death was related to the attack. "This shocks the conscience."
Richardson’s lawyer noted he had no criminal background and was considered a low risk of flight by the office of pretrial services. But Dawkins cited the "extremely violent nature of the attack" and set Richardson’s bail at $3 million.
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Richardson, who has worked for the transit agency for two years, had been the subject of past complaints from riders, according to prosecutors. A customer service manager for the agency told authorities she had allegedly twice verbally warned Richardson about his treatment of customers and attitude.
Surveillance footage shows the man getting off a train at the station shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday while pushing a wheelchair with his belongings. At times, he appears to be unstable and is seen falling over.
About an hour later, the man is seen sleeping on the platform when Richardson approaches "in a violent manner," Scaduto said.
Richardson can be seen kicking the man’s wheelchair several times, causing the man to fall to the floor, and then kicking his property around the platform, prosecutors said.
The man, who never tried to defend himself, took an elevator at the station to a higher level, where Richardson was allegedly seen struggling with him again and shoving him onto an escalator.
At one point, Richardson appeared to lose his balance while trying to pull the man by the hood of his coat, causing Richardson to become "even more visibly irate," Scaduto said. Richardson allegedly rushed at the man and pushed him over a railing, causing him to land on his back.
Richardson grabbed the man by his hood, pulled him to the top of a set of stairs and flipped the man feet-over-head down the stairs to a platform below, Scaduto said. Richardson returned several times to pour bottles of water on the man.
Richardson then propped the man up and punched him in the face repeatedly before again pushing him down a set of stairs, prosecutors said.
"At that point the victim’s body [was] essentially motionless," Scaduto said.