Nov 06, 2015
Balwinder Jit Singh, a sikh bus operator for the Los Angeles Country transit authority was brutally attacked by a bus passenger who called him a “terrorist” and “suicide bomber” and accused him of hijacking the bus.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, KC Tard Jr., 34, faces one felony count of battery with injury on transit personnel in the Nov. 6 assault on Balwinder Jit Singh.
The attack is being treated as a hate crime. Tard shouted racial slurs, then hit the bus driver before running away, prosecutors said.
"I was attacked because of my Sikh religious appearance and I'm grateful that authorities reexamined my case and finally brought hate crime charges against the assailant," Singh said in a statement. "Acknowledging hatred when it occurs is the necessary first step for combating the problem."
Singh’s attack sparked concerns among Sikhs who believed the incident was misclassified as a misdemeanor assault.
The Sikh Coalition, a national civil rights organization, argued that the crime should have been investigated as a hate crime because Singh’s attacker had used racial slurs during the assault.
According to an account provided by the coalition, Tard allegedly shouted that Singh, who wore a beard and traditional Sikh turban, was a terrorist and suicide bomber and accused him of hijacking the bus.
After the racial slurs were made, Singh dropped Tard off at Crenshaw and Manchester boulevards in South Los Angeles. B Tard, however, returned and struck Singh in the chest, the coalition said.
Singh tried to prevent his Metro bus from careening into traffic, which had 20 to 25 passengers. He kept his foot on the brake even though he was under attack, the coalition said.
A passenger informed the police once Tard left the bus, and Singh was taken to a hospital.
The coalition said he suffered a black eye, a broken jaw and a swollen lip. Singh was also battling an eye infection that took weeks of healing.
If Tard is convicted, he could face up to six years in prison for the attack, prosecutors said.