WINNIPEG – A transit bus driver who was killed at the end of a late-night shift could have responded differently to a passenger refusing to get off the bus but that didn’t justify getting stabbed, the prosecution said Wednesday.
Crown attorney Keith Eyrikson said driver Irvine Jubal Fraser, who was 58, asked the passenger more than two dozen times to leave the bus before physically removing him.
Brian Kyle Thomas, 24, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
“What Mr. Fraser did ? did not justify in any way shape or form (his death),” Eyrikson said in his closing submission.
He said being kicked off a bus should not engender “murderous rage.”
Fraser’s death prompted calls for increased safety measures on Winnipeg buses, including safety shields for drivers, and multiple onlookers in Winnipeg Transit jackets filled the courtroom Wednesday.
The defence did not present any evidence during the trial and its closing arguments were expected later in the day.
Portions of what happened on the unseasonably warm winter night almost two years ago were captured on security cameras in Fraser’s bus. They show the driver grabbing a passenger and pushing him off the bus.
The passenger starts to throw punches at Fraser from outside the door. Eyrikson said the passenger was taunting the driver, spitting at him and calling him names, and trying to get him off the bus to fight.
“Mr. Fraser understandably can’t take it,” Eyrikson said.
Despite Fraser being much larger in stature, Thomas was looking for a conflict, Eyrikson said. “He wasn’t afraid of a bigger guy because he had a huge advantage – he had a knife.”
Video played for the jury shows the driver leaving the bus after the passenger. Security footage from another nearby city bus shows and witness testimony during the trial described the driver and passenger grappling with each other at the bus stop.
Within a span of seconds, Eyrikson said, the driver was stabbed multiple times.