Ex-bus driver pleads guilty to assault caught on video

2013-07-19T04:00:00Z 2014-01-16T11:18:10Z Ex-bus driver pleads guilty to assault caught on videoBy LORI PILGER / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Troy Fischer, the former StarTran bus driver who lost his job and gained notoriety for being caught on video pummeling a rider, pleaded guilty to assault Thursday.

The 43-year-old had been set to return to court next week for trial.

Instead, he stood in front of Lancaster County Court Judge Gale Pokorny at an early afternoon hearing.

When the judge asked for his plea to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor that could get him up to a year in jail, Fischer answered "guilty, your honor."

He said little more in the brief hearing.

Deputy County Attorney Nick Freeman said Fischer picked up a passenger at 25th and O streets March 23.

When Fischer tried to explain to the passenger that he was on the wrong bus to get to 56th Street and Pioneers Boulevard, the passenger stayed put, acting irate and appearing to be under the influence of something, Freeman said.

At 84th and O streets, he walked toward Fischer again.

As caught on a video recorded by a camera on the bus, Fischer pushed the 40-year-old passenger away, punched him several times and then dragged him off the bus, appearing to leave him in the eastbound lane of O Street.

"I put him off the bus," he told his supervisor over the radio. "It wasn't pretty."

On camera, Fischer asked his supervisor not to watch the video and whether he could erase the footage. The supervisor ordered Fischer to abandon his route and return to the garage. Another driver filled in.

Fischer was suspended without pay for two days after the alleged assault and fired at an April 11 disciplinary hearing.

In court, Freeman offered the video clips and photos of the victim's swollen lip and bloodied nose and Fischer's hands.

Pokorny asked if they should play the clips, saying he hadn't seen them yet.

Fischer's attorney, Sean Reagan, said that wasn't necessary.

The video spread like wildfire online, and even led to an April "Inside Edition" interview, in which Fischer told his side of the story.

“Everyone sees me as this horrible person, and for a minute maybe I was, but it’s just so not me,” he said then.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m not this brutal thug.”

Fischer was quiet as he left the courtroom Thursday. Reagan said later that he'll be asking for probation at sentencing Sept. 18.

Reach Lori Pilger at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com or follow her on Twitter at LJSpilger.

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