A transit worker finally got justice.
A knife-wielding lunatic slashed Bus Operator John Browne on the neck in Brownsville, Brooklyn, nearly two years ago.
Last month, Browne watched a Brooklyn Supreme Court justice sentence his attacker, Alfredo Perez, to four years in state prison. “Today is a victory for me and for all Bus Operators,” Browne said. “Mr. Perez assaulted me and today he paid the consequences. I’m pleased in my heart, and I would like to see more of these kinds of actions by the justice system.”
Browne was concerned – and rightly so – that Justice Michael Gary might simply sentence Perez, 31, to probation, counseling and community service, or to a month or so in a local jail. Judges and prosecutors rarely if ever throw the book at criminals who abuse and assault Bus Operators, Train Conductors and other vulnerable transit workers. But Gary said Perez’s actions were far too serious to warrant a slap on the wrist. He also cited a pre-sentencing evaluation that concluded there was a “moderate to high risk” Perez would commit violence again if freed.
Browne was waiting outside a bodega for an MTA tow truck to come for his disabled bus when Perez, a walking time bomb, erupted. Perez apparently thought Browne, a soft-spoken married father of six kids, was looking inappropriately at his girlfriend. So, spewing curses, Perez charged Browne and slashed him with his knife, causing an approximately six-inch gash. Browne is permanently disfigured with a raised, puffy and painful-looking scar. It starts behind his left ear and extends down onto his neck. “He could have killed me,” Browne said after the sentencing. “My kids could be growing up without a father. My wife could be left without a husband.”
Before leaving the courthouse, Browne told said he wanted his case to serve both as a warning and an example. “If you assault a Bus Operator you are going to get caught,” Browne said. “You are going to be arrested and sentenced to prison.”
TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen struck a similar note in an interview with The Chief-Leader newspaper. “Hopefully, we’ve turned a corner on the problem now, and hopefully that becomes the norm rather than the exception,” Samuelsen said. “Until judges and others start looking at assaults on transit workers as a heinous event against society we’ll see subpar sentences.