May 6, 2015
This press release was issued today by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty.
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CLEVELAND — The Cleveland man who robbed an RTA bus driver at gunpoint last June has been sentenced to 14 years in prison, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced today.
Darryl Griffin, 40, entered a plea of guilty on April 1 to one count each of Aggravated Robbery, Kidnapping, Disrupting Public Service and Having Weapons Under Disability.
This morning, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael P. Donnelly sentenced Griffin to spend 14 years in prison. Judge Donnelly also ordered Griffin to serve five years of post-release control after his prison sentence ends and banned Griffin from ever again riding RTA.
Evidence showed that shortly before 4 a.m. on June 26, 2014, Griffin boarded a westbound RTA bus on St. Clair Avenue at East 82nd Street. He held a gun to the head of the 57-year-old driver and took her wallet, checkbook and car keys. He also made repeated verbal threats to the driver and forced her to pass several stops where people were waiting for the bus. He finally allowed the driver to stop in the 6000 block of St. Clair Avenue, where he stepped off the bus.
After intense investigation – aided by a citizen who reported hearing Griffin talk about the robbery – Transit Police arrested him on July 8.
At today’s sentencing, the victim told Judge Donnelly that “parts of that day still haunt me. . . I thought it was going to be the last day of my life. I have never been so afraid. He not only endangered my life, but the lives of the eight other people on my coach.”
Assistant County Prosecutor Kelly N. Mason, who prosecuted this case for the State of Ohio, noted that Griffin has had 28 arrests as an adult, including for violent offenses, such as Assault and Domestic Violence.
“The defendant’s behavior in this case was terrifying,” Ms. Mason said. “The crime he committed here put the driver, the other passengers on the bus and the whole community in jeopardy.”
RTA CEO and General Manager Joe Calabrese told Judge Donnelly, “RTA’s employees are good public servants and they deserve to be safe in what they do.”
After sentencing, Calabrese also issued the following statement:
“The outstanding efforts of Transit Police and RTA detectives resulted in the quick arrest and subsequent prosecution of the perpetrator. RTA’s brave men and women worked swiftly in this case, and they are to be commended for their excellent efforts."
“RTA surveillance video played a key role in helping our Transit Police identify and quickly capture the criminal. Our surveillance cameras on that bus recorded the entire incident. Our detectives arrested the bad guy. He was charged, indicted, found guilty and now he has to face some very serious consequences."
“We are thankful that today our operator has been able to return to work, but this has been a life-altering experience for her. We are very proud of her, and she is to be highly commended. Though faced with a very real threat to her own life, she handled the situation in such a way that she kept not only herself safe but also our customers, as well."
“We’d like to thank County Prosecutor Tim McGinty for his diligence in this case. It’s clear that the justice system works – and it worked well in tandem with RTA’s detective bureau as we joined forces to seek justice on behalf of our bus driver."
“RTA is committed to the safety and security of our operators and our customers. Because of our diligent police force, surveillance cameras and extra security personnel, operator assaults are rare, with one occurring in every 80,000 trips. Yet we all know that one assault is one too many. Now with this perpetrator off the streets -- and banned from ever being allowed on any RTA vehicle -- we know we are protecting our drivers, our customers and all the people of Cuyahoga County. We can all rest easy when the guilty are brought to justice.”