Bus Driver Assault Case Goes to Trial Despite Problems with Identification

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By Roxanna Jarvis

SACRAMENTO, CA – Although Judge Matthew Gray pointed out a clear identification issue during defendant Dante Day’s preliminary hearing here in Sacramento County Superior Court Monday, he still found enough evidence was present to set Day’s trial date for allegedly assaulting a bus driver.

Day is alleged to have punched a Sacramento bus operator in the face on Oct. 2, 2020.

Officers were dispatched to the intersection of Fruitridge Road and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., where the bus operator told Officer Myron Loui he had picked up a passenger down the street, who then boarded and paid bus fare but was “mumbling and saying some racial comments about then-President Trump.”

Shortly after, the bus stopped at the intersection of Fruitridge Rd. and MLK Blvd. when the operator noticed the same man begin to walk toward the front of the bus.

“When [the driver] asked what was going on, that passenger pulled back his plexiglass shield from the operator and punched him in the face,” Loui told the court. The man then deboarded the bus and left.

When Loui arrived at the scene, he noticed that the bus driver had redness and “slight swelling on his right cheek” which had an approximately one-inch long laceration on it. The driver also pointed out a chipped tooth. All injuries, the alleged victim stated, were from the man who assaulted him.

Although no accusations of hate crime were brought up during Day’s preliminary hearing, the alleged victim in the case is of Asian American descent.

Thirty minutes later, a man fitting the characteristics the bus operator described to officers was detained at a bus stop approximately half a mile away.

Officer Loui was with the suspect as an in-field show-up was conducted. He noted that the man was still talking about Trump when he was detained.

A second officer, Mark Hefner, was with the alleged victim at the in-field line up. Hefner told the court that the driver said, “That’s the person who punched me, I am 100% sure.”

During the preliminary hearing, both officers identified the man sitting in court as Day, but neither stated that Day was the same man they detained for the lineup.

This was a problem both Judge Gray and Day’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Courtney Zane, recognized.

“The record will reflect [Officer Hefner] identified the defendant, but the question is going to be, ‘Is this the person that was detained at the in-field line up?” said Gray earlier in the hearing.

In her closing argument, APD Zane mentioned the discrepancy Gray made. “Officer Hefner, my concern is that he testified that Mr. Day is sitting here as the defendant. But we didn’t make the connection between [the alleged victim’s] identification that Mr. Day was the person that committed the assault.”

Judge Gray ultimately decided that both testimonies by Officers Loui and Hefner coupled together create enough evidence to place a holding order on identification.

Day’s trial is set to occur in May.

Roxanna Jarvis is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley, currently majoring in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. She is from Sacramento, California.


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