Bus driver found guilty of assault after choking passenger

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BEND, Ore. (AP) — A fired Oregon bus driver accused of choking a black passenger into unconsciousness because the man was not wearing shoes has been convicted of strangulation and of assault.

A Deschutes County jury on Wednesday found Michael Brinster guilty of choking and assaulting Dorian Allstot and not guilty of threatening, The Bulletin reported.

The six-person jury reached the verdict after about four hours of deliberation on the 2020 incident that was caught on bus surveillance footage, according to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.

Brinster, who is white, maintained that he was defending himself against Allstot, who is black.

The jury decided that Brinster was not justified in the level of force he used against Allstot.

Hummel said Allstot repeatedly throughout the case said he didn’t believe he would get justice. He noted that he did not trust the police, who arrested him outside the bus for spitting and threatening Brinster, and that he did not trust the all-white jury.

On August 20, 2020, Allstot boarded the Cascades East Transit bus in Bend. Brinster, who was driving, asked Allstot to get off as he was not wearing shoes. Brinster claimed it was a violation of bus rules, although the council which oversees the transit operation said the rule did not exist.

Allstot got off the bus and Brinster left. Upon returning to the station, Allstot attempted to get back on the bus, this time wearing socks. Brinster stopped him and an argument ensued.

Brinster claimed Allstot took his knife from its sheath, although he was not charged with a weapons-related offence. Brinster responded by grabbing Allstot, slamming him against a window, and knocking him off the bus in a chokehold. Allstot briefly lost consciousness, prosecutors said.

Allstot was charged with spitting and threatening Brinster, but those charges were dismissed.

Brinster was fired after the incident. His sentencing is scheduled for November 18.

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