SEATTLE - Shannon Warnke said she was not only taunted, but spit on and punched while on a Metro bus. Court documents state that Kimberly Leavy is accused of malicious harassment and assault in the fourth degree for allegedly attacking Warnke on the Route 7 line that goes from Rainier Beach to downtown Seattle.
Warnke said when she sat down on the bus with a white-and-red cane, witnesses said Leavy told her, "There is the blind b----- again." According to court documents, the victim responded, "Not you, again." The victim later told detectives that Leavy had taunted her several times before on the Route 7.
Warnke said when Leavy was told to get off the bus, she got up and spit in the victim's face. That's when the victim put the end of her cane in Leavy's back. Leavy then allegedly started attacking the victim, grabbing her by her hair and repeatedly punching her in the back of her head and face. Warnke asked the bus driver to remove Leavy from the bus several times before she was attacked. "She's hitting me long enough that I was yelling out of help; I'm thinking nobody's helping me, why isn't somebody getting her off me? Finally two men for sure, possibly three went to grab her off," said Warnke.
She thinks if the driver told Leavy to get off the bus earlier, she would not have been attacked. "When I said I felt unsafe, I expected the driver to get his butt out of the seat and direct, not even touch her, but direct her out the back or shield me as she went out the front," said Warnke.
Metro Transit said it's not the responsibility of drivers to step in during these situations. "Our drivers are not enforcers, and our policy is to call police when a conflict arises between passengers. We'll be investigating this case further to better understand the circumstances," said Jeff Switzer, Metro Transit spokesman.
The King County Sheriff's Office deploys Metro Police officers to patrol the buses. Sgt. Cindi West said, "To have an attack on a disabled passenger like this is pretty rare." West added, "Route 7 is unfortunately, is one of the routes we have more officers assigned to."
From 1999 to 2007 Route 7 has also had the most attacks on Metro bus drivers. West said most of the crimes committed on Route 7 buses involve people drinking and smoking or loitering on the bus. In 2012, there were eight passenger vs. passenger incidents on Route 7. Metro said from January 2013 to July 31 of this year, there have been three passenger vs. passenger incidents. However, Metro could not say how minor or severe the incidents were.
Because of the incident, Warnke is considering legal action against Metro Transit so drivers can do more to protect disabled passengers. "Metro should have a policy to report bullies, especially on dangerous routes," said Yohannes Sium, attorney for Warnke. He added, "They should report, call the police, call metro police when people are attacked and when they're intimidated." Warnke said she was almost speechless when the driver didn't immediately call police after the attack. "Finally at this point the driver said, 'Do you want to call the cop? Should I call the cops? Do you wanna file charges?' Abso-freakin'-loutely I do. She beat the crap out of me," said Warnke.
Leavy is being held on $50,000 bond in the King County Jail. She's been convicted of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, fourth-degree assault--domestic violence and prostitution.