RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Office agreed to reduce one charge against a Richmond man accused of assaulting a GRTC bus driver.
Dexter Superville was charged with felony malicious wounding and strangulation for assaulting GRTC bus driver Wayne Harvell when he was a passenger on Harvell's bus in October 2021. The attack was caught on surveillance video.
On Tuesday, Superville waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
The prosecutor reduced Superville's malicious wounding charge, which was a class 3 felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, to an unlawful wounding charge, a class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Prosecutor Shannon Kohler declined to comment on why the charge was reduced.
The strangulation charge remains unchanged.
The new charges go to a grand jury for certification on April 3 before going to Circuit Court.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.
Superville was initially charged with simple assault and released by police shortly after his arrest. Officers did not watch the security video of the attack until CBS 6 started its investigation.
Since his attack, Harvell has hoped legislators would pass a law making assaulting a bus driver a felony.
"That was a fight for his life, so I wouldn't consider it misdemeanor assault," Harvell's attorney Sean Kavanagh said.
There was a 275 percent increase in bus driver assaults between 2021 and 2022, according to numbers GRTC shared with
State Delegate Delores McQuinn (D - Richmond).
The data also showed that since 2017, GRTC had nine incidents in which the police were involved. Only two of the nine incidents were prosecuted.
McQuinn sponsored a bill during the 2023 General Assembly that would require anyone convicted of assaulting a public transportation vehicle operator to spend a mandatory minimum of two days behind bars. A version of her bill passed that removed the two-day jail sentence.
"This at least begins a process that something must be done," McQuinn said. "We're going to bring it to everyone's attention that this is a problem and a challenge we are having among transit workers."
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