Chicago — A CTA customer service agent beat a 54-year-old man for an hour at the LaSalle Blue Line station, then tossed him down two flights of stairs like “garbage,” prosecutors said. The victim, a 54-year-old man traveling with a wheelchair, died at the scene.
Emmett Richardson, 39, must pay a $300,000 bail deposit to be released on electronic monitoring, said Judge Barbara Dawkins during a Tuesday afternoon bail hearing.
His supervisor told police that Richardson, a CTA employee for about two years, had been verbally warned twice in the past ten months about his attitude and treatment of customers.
CTA surveillance camera footage, which captured nearly everything that happened, showed the victim arriving at the LaSalle station on a train around 2:05 a.m. Saturday, prosecutor Lorraine Scaduto told Judge Dawkins. For over an hour, he is seen pushing his wheelchair, loaded with his personal property, around the platform, sometimes stumbling, falling, and appearing unstable.
Richardson arrived on the platform around 3:17 a.m., found the victim apparently sleeping, and began “engaging with the victim in a violent manner,” Scaduto alleged. The victim never tried to defend himself or engage with Richardson.
Scaduto said Richards kicked the victim’s wheelchair, knocking him to the ground, then kicked the man’s property about the platform. He shoved the man onto an escalator and followed him to the mezzanine area, where he yanked the man over a railing, causing him to fall on his back.
Richardson dragged the man across the mezzanine floor, beat him with a cardboard drink carrier, and dragged him to the top of a staircase, first by his hood, then by his feet, Scaduto said.
At the top of the stairs, Richardson flipped the man “feet over head” down the stairs “like so much garbage,” Scaduto continued. Richardson left the scene and returned several times, stopping twice to pour full bottles of water on him.
Scaduto said Richardson propped the man up, beat him in the face and head, and caused him to fall down a second flight of stairs. At that point, the victim became “completely motionless,” the veteran prosecutor alleged.
Once again, Richardson left the man and returned several times, moving the man’s body each time. He eventually called 911 to report an “unresponsive but breathing man” at the bottom of the stairs. The victim was declared dead at the scene.
When police spoke with Richardson at the customer service desk, he allegedly told them that he saw the victim sitting in his wheelchair on the platform, “surrounded” by drug paraphernalia, and he believed the man had overdosed.
He also told police that the man “collapsed” as Richardson was helping him up the stairs, Scaduto said. But surveillance video showed that was not true. According to Scaduto, no drug-related items were seen near the victim on the CTA video, and none was discovered by police.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy on the man, who has not been publicly identified, but the results are still pending. Prosecutors charged Richardson with aggravated battery in a public place and aggravated battery of a transit passenger. Those charges could change after the medical examiner’s findings are made.
An assistant public defender told the court that Richardson is a high school graduate with some college experience. He regularly conducts food drives for homeless people in his community, the lawyer said.