OR: Woman Got Angry, Spat on TriMet Driver Who Asked To See Her Honored Citizen ID Card

July 15--It was a TriMet bus driver's request for a woman to show her Honored Citizen ID Card, which allows for reduced fare, that angered the woman who tried to pay $1 to ride and spurred her to spit at the driver Sunday in Portland, according to court records.

Euchaira Michelle Nwerem, 30, was arraigned Monday on allegations of assaulting a public safety officer, interfering with public transportation, second-degree disorderky conduct, resisting arrest and two counts of harassment.

TriMet bus driver Chandler Cole told Portland police that Nwerem got on his bus, which was heading northbound on Southeast 82nd Avenue, and tried to pay $1.

He asked to see her honorary ID card.

"She got angry and started yelling at him, pushing him and shoving him with her elbow," prosecutor Christopher Ramras wrote in a probable cause affidavit. "She then spat on Mr. Cole, getting saliva on his leg."

Another bus driver, Gary Ferguson, told police that he was on the bus to be a relief driver. He saw Nwerem attack Cole and attempted to intercede, the affidavit said.

"Ms. Nwerem pushed Ferguson twice in the chest and got off the bus," the affidavit said.

Portland police Officer Heather Rippe arrived and told Nwerem that she was not free to go. Rippe wrote in her report that she waited for a second officer to arrive before trying to take Nwerem into custody because she said Nwerem was about twice her size, the affidavit said.

Rippe and cover Officer Josh Letter both grabbed one of Nwerem's arms, police said, but she was able to break free and put Rippe into a headlock and pulled out several clumps of Rippe's hair, Ramras wrote in the affidavit.

Police eventually took Nwerem into custody.

TriMet's Honored Citizen ID cards are how TriMet identifies seniors age 65 or older, people on Medicare and people with mental or physical disabilities. The cards allow for reduced fares and priority seating on buses and trains.

Ramras said he did not know whether Nwerem had a card. According to court records, Nwerem is transient, unemployed and receives Social Security benefits.

She was taken to Portland hospital for an evaluation before she was booked Sunday into the Multnomah County Detention Center, where she remains in custody.

--Maxine Bernstein

Copyright 2014 - The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

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