Metro bus driver assaulted during busy rush hour

SEATTLE — On April 2, on-board a Metro bus route 7 in downtown Seattle, 50-year-old James Christopher Clemmons is charged with violently attacking a coach driver at random.

Clemmons “threw what was described as an edged piece of concrete or a brick, striking the driver” King County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ryan Abbott described to KIRO 7 on Friday.  Clemmons then followed up “with multiple punches,” Abbott said.

According to documents filed in King County Superior Court, at least two passengers came to the driver's aid, who was belted into his seat and unable to escape.

Because of the alleged assault, Clemmons has been suspended from traveling on-board any Metro buses for a year, if and when he gets out of jail, according to King County Metro spokesperson Torie Rynning.

However, Clemmons has not been suspended from Sound Transit, despite five Sound Transit citations for failing to pay his fare since October of 2016. The most recent two cases happened just last month.

Sound Transit “has not suspended Mr. Clemmons from our services or systems,” Kimberly Reason, Senior Public Information Officer for Sound Transit told KIRO 7 in an email Friday.

At the time of the April 2 assault, a warrant had been issued for Clemmons' arrest for "failing to register as a sex offender."  He has failed to appear in court 12 times since 1992, and has multiple convictions for illegal drugs, indecent liberties and assault.

In charging documents, the King County Prosecutor's Office describes Clemmons as "a danger to the public" “capable of committing crimes of violence against complete strangers.”

“Thankfully, there were some other people getting on the bus that were aware of what was going on and they came to the driver’s aid,” Abbott said.

Even though Clemmons has been suspended from riding Metro for the next year because of the alleged assault, keeping him off buses may be difficult.

According to Rynning, drivers are not told who the suspended riders are and undercover King County Sheriff’s deputies, who ride buses to keep people safe, are not provided images of what suspended riders look like.

They do have a list of names, according to Abbott.

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