Camera captures Metro bus assault

by: Alison Grande Updated:

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King County Metro released new video Friday of a bus driver brutally beating one of his passengers after the man refused to get off the bus.

People passing by at the Renton Transit Center are seen in bus surveillance video shouting and watching in horror.

"It hurts me to have other pedestrians seeing something like this," King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said. "It's deplorable. And there's absolutely no excuse for this."

The video shows 61-year-old Dennis Echols out of control on the morning of Nov. 18.

Echols told a sleeping passenger to get off the bus after he completed the No. 101 route from downtown Seattle to Renton.

Twenty-three-year-old Ethan McKinney woke up but refused to leave, even as Echols yelled at him for more than a minute.

McKinney admitted he had been drinking and the video captures him swearing at the driver.

Echols held up a rubber wheel block and threatened to hit McKinney.

"He needs to get his [expletive] off the bus!" Echols yelled to someone outside the bus as McKinney walked off the bus, spitting in Echols's face.

It was at that point that Echols hit him with the wheel block, then followed McKinney outside and punched him repeatedly before kicking him while he was on the ground.

Desmond said he wants to make it clear to the public that Echols's behavior is an aberration.

"It's an isolated incident," he said. "It's not what this organization is about. It's not what the people of this organization are about."

KIRO 7 showed the fight video to bus riders at the Renton Transit Center.

They were all shocked by what they saw, but disagreed about whether Echols should have been fired.

Bus rider Brittney Stevenson's response to Metro firing the driver: "He deserved it ."

Larry Dembo disagreed, "I don't think he should have been fired. He should have been suspended."

Metro said there are procedures all drivers know to follow when someone falls asleep on board and won't leave, which include calling a specific number so King County Metro sends help.

Echols was fired Dec. 4.

KIRO 7 asked about Echols's history.

Desmond said the 12-year veteran had an "unremarkable record" and there was nothing in his history that would have suggested he would do something like this.

Both men are facing assault charges.