By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg bus driver was killed on the job by an angry passenger who refused to leave the vehicle at the end of a run, a Crown attorney said at the opening of a two-week second-degree murder trial.
Irvine Jubal Fraser, a 58-year-old driver working the late shift, was spat on and repeatedly stabbed after forcibly removing Brian Kyle Thomas from the bus, Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson told the jury Monday in his opening statements.
While people might question why Fraser physically removed the passenger, that is not the issue, Eyrikson said.
“What he did … did not justify in any way what then happened.”
Thomas, 24, has pleaded not guilty to the charge. Wearing a white dress shirt, Thomas paid close attention to the proceedings, occasionally looking down at his feet.
The Crown alleges Thomas was the last passenger on Fraser’s bus run to the University of Manitoba early on Feb. 14, 2017.
Fraser repeatedly told Thomas he had to get off the bus and Thomas refused, became angry and demanded to be driven elsewhere, Eyrikson said. Fraser then physically forced Thomas out the door and stood in the doorway to prevent him from getting back in, he added.
“He stayed there until the accused spat on him,” Eyrikson said.
“The accused stabbed the victim multiple times.”
Portions of the incident were captured on video and will be difficult to watch, Eyrikson told the jury. The trial is expected to last two weeks.
Fraser’s death prompted calls for increased safety measures on Winnipeg buses, including safety shields for drivers.
Later in 2017, police reported another transit driver had been hit in the head by a piece of concrete thrown by a passenger. Last September, a bus driver in Edmonton survived being stabbed 13 times after he refused a ride to a passenger.
The jury also heard Monday from a Winnipeg Police Service officer who was part of the investigation into Fraser’s death.
The police canine unit was called out to track a suspect after the incident. They followed a path across the Red River, and one officer briefly fell through the ice, Patrol Sgt. Brian Neumann testified.