Family of man allegedly beaten to death by CTA employee at downtown Blue Line stop files lawsuit

ByRob Hughes WLS logo
Thursday, March 7, 2024
Family of man allegedly beaten to death by CTA employee files lawsuit
The family of Kevin Powell, a man allegedly beaten to death by CTA employee Emmett Richardson at the LaSalle Blue Line stop has filed a lawsuit.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The family of a homeless man who was allegedly beaten to death at a downtown Blue Line stop is suing the CTA because a former transit worker is charged with the crime.

Emmett Richardson was a CTA customer service agent, and is accused of assaulting Kevin Powell, 54, in March of last year, in a brutal attack resulting in his death.

His family announced a wrongful death lawsuit against the agency Tuesday.

Prosecutors revealed disturbing details in court last year in the case of the CTA employee who is charged after Powell was found beaten in the LaSalle Blue Line stairwell and later died.

Richardson was initially charged with felony aggravated battery of a transit passenger, among other charges, in connection with the man's death.

He now also faces murder charges.

In court, prosecutors said the victim first appeared on the LaSalle Blue Line platform around 2 a.m., pushing a wheelchair containing his belongings.

More than an hour later, prosecutors said Richardson started his attack by pushing the man's wheelchair over for no apparent reason, while he was asleep. For the next hour, prosecutors said the victim tried over and over to evade an increasingly enraged Richardson.

SEE MORE: Disturbing details of hour-long attack by CTA employee in Blue Line stairwell revealed in court

In the course of the roughly 60-minute attack, prosecutors said Richardson shoved the victim onto the escalator and pulled him by his hood and beat the victim with a cardboard drink carrier before they said he dragged the victim by the hood to the top of a flight of stairs and threw him feet over head down the stairs.

Prosecutors said Richardson poured full bottles of water on the victim's head and then propped the victim up against a railing, and struck him in the head multiple times when the man ultimately went unresponsive.

Prosecutors said in the video of the assault, the man who died was never once seen trying to fight back in self-defense.

The video has not been made public.

Prosecutors said after the assault, the CTA employee called 911 himself, claiming to have found the man unresponsive with drug paraphernalia. The man was dead before 6 a.m., and police said a colleague identified Richardson in security video.

His attorney said he had no prior criminal record.

Attorneys representing Powell's family held a news conference Wednesday, demanding accountability from the CTA.

Powell's sister and mother were both in attendance and visibly emotional nearly a year after the death of their loved one.

"He has a name. His name is Kevin Powell. He wasn't some homeless man on the street," Powell's sister Rachelle Powell said.

The sadness is fresh for Powell.

"I wish you all could have gotten to know him. He would have helped anybody that was in need. We just want justice for my brother. That's all," she said.

"He went from being a loving son, brother and human being to a corpse, courtesy of the CTA and its employee," the family's attorney Lance Northcutt said.

He said Richardson had been reprimanded for attitude and hostile behavior toward customers, which was documented by the CTA.

"We don't know the exact nature and the extent of how far back those complaints go. What we do know is the CTA had notice, that they had someone in a position that he shouldn't have been in," Northcutt said. "There has to be an effort to do better and doing better means we have to make sure that homeless people aren't attacked and murdered on CTA platforms."

The CTA said Wednesday it was "unable to comment on pending litigation."

Richardson is next due in court Friday.

He posted bail, and is on electronic monitoring.

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