A Fort Worth Transportation Authority board member has been accused of tossing a binder of papers into a blind man’s face during a tension-filled public meeting at which proposed cutbacks in bus service and street repairs were being debated.
Michael Logan, a former Richland Hills councilman who has represented his city on the Fort Worth transit board since October, acknowledged in a phone interview after the meeting that he threw a 30- to 50-page report in a plastic binder at Travis Malone. The document struck Malone in the face, although he wasn’t seriously injured.
Logan will be cited for simple assault, a Class C misdemeanor, as a result of the altercation, the city police chief says. The offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500 but no jail time, according to state law.
Malone and several other Richland Hills residents showed up at City Hall on Tuesday evening to speak about proposed changes to bus service and street repairs in the city. Richland Hills, with about 7,800 residents, is roughly 5 miles northeast of downtown Fort Worth.
The Fort Worth Transportation Authority, aka the T, plans to replace Richland Hills’ rider request bus service — in which a bus driver picks up residents at their homes and takes them wherever they want to go in the city, or to the nearby Trinity Railway Express station — with a more traditional bus service with limited stops on city street. The change would begin this fall.
Also, the T plans to stop providing Richland Hills with street repair funding, which based on multiple estimates is expected to be a loss to the city of $195,000 to $210,000 this year.
I was standing in the foyer about 10 minutes later and Travis walked by, and I said, ‘Travis, you’ve got a big mouth.’
Mike Logan, Fort Worth Transportation Authority board
The meeting got heated, with opponents of the new transit plan growing angry after being denied a chance to speak. At one point as the meeting was ending, Malone raised his voice in the crowd and demanded to see the city’s contract with the transit agency.
Logan, who had been speaking at the lectern minutes earlier and was holding the report, said he grew tired of Malone raising his voice during the meeting and trying to incite others in the audience, so he tossed the report at Malone as he walked past him.
Malone, who says he is legally blind but can see some images up close, didn’t see the report coming at him. It struck him in the lip and the jaw. The incident was partially captured on the city’s video recording system, and although the camera’s view is partly blocked by a bystander, Malone can be seen reacting with surprise.
“I’m sorry that I threw it at him,” Logan said in a phone interview. “He was hollering that there wasn’t a contract, and that wasn’t a true statement. I was trying to make him aware we do have a contract. He wasn’t going to accept that.”
The people at City Hall who were still there gasped. The crowd that was there and all (who) witnessed it told me to contact the police.
Travis Malone, Richland Hills resident
Asked if he knew that Malone is legally blind, Logan said: “I know he has a vision problem. I have one, too.”
But Logan added that Malone’s sight impairment is a key reason that he plans to plead guilty to the simple assault charge and pay the fine.
“That’s why I’m not going to fight it,” he said.
Malone said that being struck by the report “hurt my ego” but didn’t inure him, though he complained of a swollen lip when he reported the incident to police.
“The people at City Hall who were still there gasped,” Malone said in an email. “The crowd that was there and all [who] witnessed it told me to contact the police. The city police station is right by the city hall so I walked down there. Mike Logan saw me walking out and told me that I had a big mouth.”
Logan acknowledged telling Malone he had a big mouth after the meeting and said he would stand by that remark.
“I was standing in the foyer about 10 minutes later and Travis walked by, and I said, ‘Travis, you’ve got a big mouth,’” Logan said.
Logan’s citation will be mailed to him, Police Chief Barbara Childress said.
Logan wasn’t interviewed by police at the time because he left City Hall before Malone filed his complaint.
Another resident involved in the incident, Gerrit K. Spieker, can be seen on the video touching Malone’s arm and taking the report out of his hands.
But Childress said Spieker probably won’t be cited because Malone doesn’t wish to pursue a charge against him.
Spieker said he snagged the report because it is his property, and not an official T document, although he had loaned it to Logan for reference. The report included information about the T’s service plan in Richland Hills.
Richland Hills police officer B. Littrell, who wrote a report on Malone’s complaint, noted that Malone declined medical attention after visiting the police station.
“Mr. Malone did say his lip felt a little bigger than normal and hurt a little,” Littrell wrote in his report. “I was not able to visibly see any redness or swelling around Mr. Malone's lips and arms.”