TARC union backs driver's bid to regain job after gun incident - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

TARC union backs driver's bid to regain job after gun incident

Keith King (Source: Facebook) Keith King (Source: Facebook)
Shivaun Lollis (Source: WAVE 3 News) Shivaun Lollis (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - TARC's union is standing behind a 22-year-veteran driver with an otherwise spotless work record in his bid to regain his job.

"He pretty much saved my family," said Shivaun Lollis, who witnessed part of the incident on May 19 that led to driver Keith King's firing a week later.

"He should get a medal," said Theo Hamilton, president of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Local #1447, which represents almost 700 TARC drivers, mechanics and other non-managerial personnel. "He needs to be made whole."

King and TARC management have declined comment to WAVE 3 News, citing the ongoing personnel matter.

But Hamilton called King a hero for protecting his passengers after a man threw several cobblestone-sized rocks at his bus while it was stopped to turn from Poplar Level Road to Eastern Parkway during afternoon rush hour.

"(King) told me that he pulled a firearm on him," Lollis said. "And it was the only way that (the thrower) stopped."

TARC cited those actions in King's termination letter, alleging that his decision to park the bus "escalated the situation....creating a substantial danger of death or serious injury."

But Lollis believes her pre-school daughter Izabella owes King her life.

"I knew that those rocks were so big that if one hit her head that she would die," Lollis said.

Her cellphone video shows only the aftermath: the suspect, 28-year-old Kenan Vricic, walking away.

Hamilton maintains that King had re-holstered his handgun before he stepped off of the bus.

"I never saw a gun," Lollis said. "(King) didn't walk after the rock thrower. I didn't see Mr. King until the man was out of sight."

In the termination letter, TARC alleges that King violated parts of the Disciplinary Code that leave him subject to firing for a first offense.

General Rule No. 10 prohibits "threatening, menacing or engaging in physical harm" to passengers or to employees. Rule No. 11 forbids "voluntarily" relinquishing control of the bus.

"He removed the threat," Hamilton said. "He got out of the bus to assess the damage to the bus. That's standard procedure."

Others, including a retired driver who witnessed the incident, pursued Vricic to a nearby gas station, Hamilton said. "King merely pointed the officers that way."

King would draw back pay and benefits if TARC reverses his termination, Hamilton said. Should TARC uphold the firing, union members could vote to send the matter to arbitration.

Kentucky law allows TARC drivers to carry firearms, provided they qualify for and have obtained permits.

"I would imagine more do, after what's happened in the past few years," Hamilton said. "How many? I haven't a clue."

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