Charges upgraded to murder against CTA worker who allegedly beat a homeless man at Loop station

CHICAGO — Prosecutors have upgraded charges against a CTA employee accused of beating a homeless man at the LaSalle Blue Line station on March 25. Emmett Richardson, 39, initially charged with aggravated battery, now faces two additional counts of first-degree murder.

Court records show a grand jury approved the additional charges, which were filed earlier this month.

Last month, the Cook County medical examiner ruled that the victim, Kevin Powell, died from an overdose of cocaine, fentanyl, xylazine, and heroin, with “stress due to assault” being a secondary factor. His death was ruled a homicide.

After Powell was found dead in the station, Richardson told police that he saw Powell sitting in a wheelchair on the platform, “surrounded” by drug paraphernalia, and he believed the man had overdosed, prosecutors said.

But investigators didn’t find any signs of drug use on the platform. And a subsequent review of CTA video showed something much different had occurred.

Powell arrived at the station around 2 a.m. and spent more than an hour pushing his wheelchair, loaded with personal property, around the platform, sometimes stumbling, falling, and appearing unstable, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said in March.

He was asleep when Richardson arrived on the platform and began “engaging” with Powell “in a violent manner” around 3:17 a.m., said Scaduto. Richardson kicked Powell’s wheelchair, knocking him to the ground, then kicked his property about the platform. He shoved Powell onto an escalator and followed him to the mezzanine area, where he yanked Powell over a railing, causing him to fall on his back, Scaduto said.

Emmett Richardson | Chicago Police Department

Richardson dragged Powell 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 Powell “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 water bottles on Powell.

Scaduto said Richardson propped Powell up, beat him in the face and head, and caused him to fall down a second flight of stairs. At that point, Powell became “completely motionless,” the veteran prosecutor alleged.

Once again, Richardson left Powell and returned several times, moving his body each time. He eventually called 911 to report an “unresponsive but breathing man” at the bottom of the stairs. Powell was declared dead at the scene.

Scaduto said Richardson, a two-year CTA employee, had been verbally warned twice in the past ten months about his attitude and treatment of customers.

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