Mother of slain downtown CATS bus driver speaks out after video of shooting emerges – WSOC TV
CHARLOTTE — The mother of Ethan Rivera, the CATS bus driver who was shot and killed last month while on the job in downtown Charlotte, speaks out for the first time after the moments that preceded his death.
“My heart hurts and it’s pain. It’s a real pain,” said Sylvia Rivera, Ethan’s mother.
She spoke with Channel 9’s Glenn Counts about how the release of the CATS video brought back the pain of losing her son.
“It actually brought me back to that phone call. It actually brought me back there. I had a hard time getting through. It’s only been a month,” Sylvia Rivera said.
Darian Dru Thavychith has been charged with the murder of Ethan Rivera after he was arrested in Kansas. Police said the shooting resulted from a road rage incident.
Thavychith waived extraction during his first court appearance and will eventually be brought back to Charlotte to face murder charges.
[ PREVIOUS COVERAGE: CATS releases new video showing moments before bus driver shot, killed in uptown ]
Surveillance video, released on Friday, shows Thavychith and Ethan Rivera arguing, but Sylvia Rivera said there was no excuse.
“Those were words. They don’t deserve a shot,” Sylvia Rivera said. “You were in a car. You could have kept driving. Those are scary words.”
Sylvia Rivera said she wanted to be in Charlotte to see Thavychith in person once he appears in court. She said she wanted to remind him of the life he took unnecessarily.
Sylvia Rivera said that, as painful as the video was for her, she is more concerned about Ethan’s children. She said she didn’t want them to see it, but thinks there’s probably no way to stop it now.
“I don’t know how to prepare a child to see something like this. I don’t know how to prepare them. What I can do for them. It tore me apart,” Sylvia Rivera said.
The Counts said it was clear through their conversation that Sylvia Rivera would have preferred the video not to air. She told Channel 9 that officials only gave the family a few days’ notice.
“I am therefore very disappointed with CATS. Again, like I said, legally I don’t know if we could have done anything, but they didn’t even give us a chance to try,” Sylvia Rivera said.
CATS said it released the video following a public records request.
The organization also released a statement saying in part:
“The shooting of CATS bus operator Ethan Rivera was tragic and senseless. He was a public servant and in no way deserved injury in the line of duty. We continue to pray for Mr. Rivera’s family.
“CATS also continues to support its operators as they carry out the important work of moving the citizens of this region. We have heard their concerns and are working with the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation (SMART) Employees Union – the certified collective bargaining unit that represents bus operators – to address them. CATS will pay particular attention to security improvements and provide operators with de-escalation tools that could help calm tense situations.
Sylvia Rivera also told Channel 9 that she had supported efforts by the SMART union which advocated for safer working conditions for drivers, such as the installation of bulletproof shields.
She said so far she was unimpressed with what she claimed was CATS’ response.
“One of them had the nerve to say, ‘Well, it’s an engineering and cost issue,'” Sylvia Rivera said. “How much more can I pay than my son’s life?” »
CATS did not respond to calls for bulletproof glass, but the organization has released a list of security changes it has made, such as adding CMPD patrols to the transit center and some lines of bus.
In the long term, CATS said it will inspect every bus to identify non-functioning bus radios, as well as offer employees recruitment and retention bonuses within the next 30 days.
(WATCH BELOW: CATS releases new video showing moments before bus driver was shot, killed in city center)
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