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Investigation launched into arrest on GRTC bus

Posted at 5:11 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 17:11:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin confirmed Thursday her office was investigating an interaction between Richmond Police and a man on a GRTC bus.

The May 1 arrest was recorded and shared on social media.

A GRTC driver called Richmond Police to the Temporary Transfer Plaza at 9th and Marshall just after midnight to report a disorderly passenger who had an open container of alcohol.

The 21-year-old man was identified by responding officers as someone who had multiple outstanding warrants out against him.

"Officers attempted to take him into custody," a Richmond Police spokesperson wrote about the incident. "During this attempt, [he] assaulted one of the officers."

Christopher Rhames was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, obstruction of justice, and an open container violation, according to police.

As video of the arrest was shared on social media, it disturbed some who considered the force officers used to arrest Rhamas as excessive.

The Richmond Branch of the NAACP indicated it was "looking further into this situation" as did the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

"The Office is reviewing all of the evidence currently received from the Police Department and will conduct a thorough review of the facts surrounding this incident," a statement from McEachin read. "The results of that review will be announced at its conclusion."

As for GRTC, the transit company said it was cooperating with the investigation.

“I am truly disheartened that any incident of violence would be associated with GRTC riders, on our service, or in our community. We as a society need to find better ways to de-escalate our confrontations peacefully," GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm said. "The use of police assistance is only requested by GRTC as a last resort when riders refuse to leave our vehicles or become a safety concern for our operators or riders. Our operator and the responding police responded in accordance with their training to remove and arrest a person who became violent after refusing to leave the bus. I am deeply grateful that the situation did not escalate further and that no one was seriously injured in the confrontation.”

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.