PORTLAND, Ore. – The man accused of attacking a TriMet bus driver pleaded not guilty Monday.
Daemon Bowman made his first appearance in court by video.
Meanwhile, the victim, Pamela Thompson, released a statement forgiving Bowman.
"I stand before you offering forgiveness for the brutality you exhibited on me that fateful night,” she said. “We have all made poor decisions at some time in our lives, myself included; but just as the Lord has forgiven me for those poor decisions in my life, I extend the same to you."
Police say Bowman repeatedly hit Thompson in the face on Thursday after she didn't allow him to use a transfer pass.
Harry Saporta,TriMet's executive director of safety and security, said the agency is reviewing the current training it offers drivers about how to deal with unruly customers. He said most customers are "great" but TriMet is working with Portland police on more patrols and security.
"The problem that we're seeing is not just a TriMet problem," he said. "It's a community problem. When we have an incident on our trains or our buses, it really affects the community that we serve. So we ask our customers to be respectful."
According to a probable cause affidavit, after police found Bowman and questioned him, he at first denied that he was the man shown in a picture taken from the buses' surveillance camera.
But after a police officer told Bowman "to be honest," police say he admitted to getting into an argument with the driver and hitting her because he felt disrespected.
According to the court document, Thompson said she tried to get away after Bowman starting yelling at her.
She fought Bowman off by kicking him. She ran but police say Bowman chased after her, knocked her to the ground and threw her cellphone away.
Police say Bowman hit Thompson in the face and that she suffered an abrasion over her left temple and there was swelling.
Bowman is charged with third-degree assault, interfering with public transportation and second-degree criminal mischief. He is due back in court, Tuesday Dec. 24.