NFTA bus driver Elizabeth Taylor Oliver ran from her bus to assist a young African-American girl transit police were trying to force to the ground 13 months ago, the jury at her misdemeanor trial learned Wednesday.
Whitley Kye, 16, under cross-examination by Oliver's attorney, David G. Jay, testified that two male officers ran to assist a female officer and "started helping her get me onto the ground" outside the Metro Rail station at Main and Utica streets at about 3:15 p.m. Oct. 6, 2003.
Jay also got Lt. Michael DiFranco of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police to concede he witnessed the officers forcing the girl, now a DaVinci High School junior, to the ground following "a little wrestling" after diminutive Officer Michelle Pettys had unsuccessfully "tried to take her to the ground."
The scuffle between Whitley, who had violated school policy by refusing to show her school bus pass to NFTA officers, is a central issue in the criminal trial that enters its third day today before City Judge Patrick M. Carney.
Monday, other NFTA officers claimed Whitley had assumed a defensive position on the ground outside the east end of the station on her own with no effort by them.
Oliver, 33, an NFTA bus driver since 1997, faces a possible one-year jail term and loss of her job if found guilty of harassment, resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct for the flap with transit officers.
Jay got Whitley, who came to court with her mother under a prosecution subpoena, to admit on the stand that she had considered filing charges but was told by NFTA officials she would bearrested if she did. Prosecutor G. Michael Drmacich stressed city students are obligated to show their school bus passes to any NFTA worker who requests to see the document.
Drmacich also got Whitley to confirm that she was not injured and that after she was taken to the nearby NFTA Police Headquarters, her mother was called to get her and she was not charged with any offenses.
DiFranco testified that Oliver ran screaming from her bus as he and other officers were using what he described as "minimum force" to subdue Whitley.
DiFranco said Oliver got right "over me" as he was trying to help handcuff the teenage girl, screamed an obscenity and said, "You're beating that girl!"
Also Wednesday, NFTA Transit Police Officers Brian Deming and Michael LiVecchi testified that Oliver struggled as they later tried to take her off her bus.