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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Metro Bus Driver Becomes County’s First Official Hate Crime Victim In 2021

By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has filed hate crime charges against a Seattle man accused of using a racial slur towards a King County Metro bus driver and allegedly threatening to shoot her.

The incident happened the morning of January 3 on Metro bus route 10 near Volunteer Park in Seattle. The suspect, identified as Matthew Ross Mahaffey, was released on his own recognizance although the prosecutors requested that Mahaffey be held in jail on bail.

This case is the first hate crime charged in King County in 2021 and it comes after a high number of hate crimes in 2020.  Last year, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed 56 hate crimes cases up from 39 cases in 2019 and 30 cases in 2018.

According to filing documents, it is alleged that Mahaffey maliciously and intentionally began yelling at a Metro coach operator, who is a Black, and allegedly approached her in an aggressive manner demanding she to take him to another stop although the bus had arrived at the end of its route, and the operator had instructed all passengers to exit the bus.

According to an incident report, the suspect continued to berate the operator and claimed “that he worked for the SPD.” He allegedly began calling her racial slurs and disparaging names and then allegedly threatened to shoot her on two occasions. However, the suspect did not brandish or display a weapon during the incident.

Charging documents stated that after the suspect finally exited the bus, he then turned around and took a couple of photographs of the coach operator and disappeared into Volunteer Park on Capital Hill.

After the bus operator called for assistance, Metro Transit deputies responded to the scene, apprehended the suspect and quickly placed him in restraints. Deputies asked if he had threatened to shoot a coach operator and, according to the incident report, he replied, “yes because she is a crack head n—-er.” The deputies read him his Miranda Rights and placed him in custody in the back of a police car.

The deputies then returned to the coach and continued getting the statement of the coach operator and asked if she felt threaten. The operator responded, “she takes people at their word and even though he appeared mentally ill or crazy, I believed his threats and was afraid.”

documents also show that the suspect possesses an extensive criminal history including such charges as theft, forgery, assault, reckless driving, malicious mischief and other charges. 

Mahaffey is expected to be in court on January 20 for an arraignment, where he is expected to enter a plea.

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