With a supportive family and flanked by his attorney, the CTA bus driver, who alleges he was beaten by an off-duty Chicago police officer, left a morning court appearance still facing felony charges in connection with the incident.
Ricardo Mendoza was charged last weekend with obstruction of justice and filing a false police report nearly two months after the 41-year-old filed a federal lawsuit against Chicago Police Department Sergeant Thomas O'Grady who he says beat him during a September 12th confrontation between the two.
"Mr. Mendoza was here today and he's going to defend himself against the criminal charges just like he filed the lawsuit for his civil rights against the officer who struck him when he was driving his bus for the CTA," said Craig Sandberg, Mendoza's attorney.
The officer has not been charged in the incident.
Mendoza claims O'Grady punched him several times in the head. Although video from a CTA surveillance camera on the bus shows O'Grady boarding the number 62 Archer bus, Mendoza was driving near State and Monroe. A bus partition obstructs the camera's view of the officer's actions.
The bus driver glasses were broken and he was treated at a hospital for eye injuries.
Mendoza's lawsuit alleges he was attacked by O'Grady because the off-duty cop who was riding a bicycle thought Mendoza had cut him off.
Mendoza's union is backing him. They're saying that the charges against their operator are trumped up.
In the meantime, Chicago police's superintendent says he is supporting the fact that the charges were filed against Mendoza.
Mendoza remains free on $50,000 bond and is due back in court next month.