OH: Black Civil Rights Groups Call for Charges in RTA Bus Driver Case

June 24--A coalition of black civil rights groups called on Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck to review filing state charges following a Dayton police investigation that invalidated the claims of a bus driver who said he was shot and stabbed by three black teens.

At a news conference Monday, representatives from the NAACP, the Dayton Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the New Black Panther Party and the Dayton Black Legionnaires also called on the Greater Dayton Regional Transportation Authority to fire its driver, Rickey Wagoner, for making the charges.

The group added that it wants a public explanation from Dayton City Prosecutor Stephanie Cook about why no charges were filed against Wagoner. Wagoner, who is white, told investigators the shooting might have been a gang initiation because he said he heard one of the suspects tell another to kill him "if you want to be all the way in the club" and that they were there to "shoot a polar bear" -- street lingo for a white person.

"The NAACP feels this is not an issue that can be dropped," NAACP Dayton Unit President Derrick L. Foward said. "They need to say why they don't have enough to prosecute."

Added Donald Domineck, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, "He reinforced stereotypes for young black men. We think he should be held accountable for his actions. I commend (Dayton Police) Chief (Richard) Biehl for following through on the investigation."

Wagoner remains on paid administrative leave from the transit agency and is awaiting a disciplinary hearing where he will face violations of the RTA Employee Standards of Performance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which also investigated the case, said it has concluded there is no reason to believe the incident is a hate crime.

Bishop Richard Cox of the SCLC, said he has faith in RTA Executive Director Mark Donaghy to handle the internal disciplinary procedure. "I feel he'll make the right call," Cox said.

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