Charges: Man attacked bus driver over racial slur that never was

The attack was captured on video that went viral on social media.
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The attack on a Minneapolis bus driver that went viral on social media was caused by a racial slur that never happened.

The attacker has been identified as Sterling Smith, 26, of Girard Avenue North in Minneapolis, who was charged on Wednesday with 3rd degree assault.

It comes after he allegedly kicked and punched the driver of a Metro Transit Route 5 bus on Apr. 10, with another passenger filming the incident and later sharing it on Facebook and Snapchat, where it was viewed more than 160,000 times.

According to the criminal complaint, the incident unfolded because a woman standing near the driver alleged the driver had made racial comments after he told her to stop swearing.


– Video shows attack on Metro Transit bus driver.

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The driver called the police to come and remove the woman from the bus as she was being uncooperative. Another woman, identified as Smith's girlfriend, was on the phone with Smith while this was going on.

She told Smith about the driver's alleged comments, what bus they were on and that the bus was stopped at Emerson and 15th Avenue North.

A short time later, Smith entered the bus and escorted his girlfriend off, returning after to attack the driver, fleeing after an alarm was activated.

Those alleged racial comments? They never happened, with police finding the entire incident was recorded by on-board cameras and "no such statement is heard."

When he was told this, Smith said: "I took it the wrong way possibly."

The driver suffered cuts to his right eye lid, scrapes to his forehead, a bloody nose and double vision that lasted more than two days.

The attack led to calls for greater protections for bus drivers, with WCCO reporting officials are planning on looking at ways to introduce more barriers between drivers and passengers, amid concerns driver attacks are on the rise.

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