Lawrence Madden Jr. has described the lingering pain and anguish of being kicked and punched by one CTA bus driver and body-slammed by another in June.
But it appears the West Side man may have thrown the first punch in the June 11 incident, which was caught on video and subsequently went viral. CTA surveillance video, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, appears to show Madden striking the first blow.
“Yes, that’s what happened. I defended myself,” Leonard Andrews Jr. said in a brief conversation with a Sun-Times reporter Tuesday. The CTA fired Andrews and Milan Williams, the man seen on the video body-slamming Madden.
Andrews, 28, was charged with misdemeanor battery. Williams, 46, was charged with felony aggravated battery. Williams, who could not be reached for comment, told Fox News Chicago he was coming to the aid of a colleague.
Andrews said Tuesday he feels he was unjustly fired.
The incident happened in the early-morning hours of June 11 at the intersection of 77th Street and Western Avenue. During a news conference with his lawyers last month, Madden, who lives on the West Side, said he was taking a bus to see his father when the driver stopped the vehicle to talk to another CTA driver. As the conversation dragged on, Madden said he told the bus driver he was in a hurry to get to his destination. Madden said the bus driver threatened him, and so Madden exited the bus.
“As I’m getting off the bus, he hit me and he kicked me three times,” Madden said last month.
In the short viral video, Madden can be seen in between two CTA employees before being body-slammed by one of them.
The longer CTA surveillance video shows Madden getting off the bus, dropping his belongings, walking up to Andrews and throwing what appears to be the first punch. The driver is then seen kicking and punching Madden. Toward the end of the video, another CTA employee approaches and body-slams Madden. Then, as the bus pulls away and Madden is left lying on the ground, a witness gets out of his car and appears to strike Madden.
Madden could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Tamara Walker, one of his attorneys, said regardless of whether her client threw a punch, the two CTA bus drivers should not have behaved the way they did.
“The video speaks for itself, but obviously both the CTA and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office agree with our position that the men’s actions were inappropriate, they were vigilante, they were excessive and, quite frankly, they were dangerous,” Walker said.
The bus driver “escalated the situation” by getting off the bus when Madden exited, Walker said.
Walker, who had not seen the CTA video until the Sun-Times provided it to her, said her client never mentioned throwing a punch June 11 — something that doesn’t surprise her, she said.
“So if Mr. Madden doesn’t remember some of the physical contact, or even the exact location of the incident, that’s not surprising given the fact he suffered a traumatic head injury as a result of being slammed to the ground,” Walker said.
She said she subpoenaed the CTA videos but had not yet received them.
Walker said she is still investigating the case.
Keith Hill, president of Local 241 Amalgamated Transit Union, said in judging the two CTA employees’ actions, it’s important to remember the difficulties operators face working at night, when police are less visible than in the daytime.
“We’re constantly being attacked, we’re constantly being harassed. We [are] all we got,” Hill said.