The victim says getting assaulted in broad daylight was something he never thought he'd have to worry about. That is, before this year.
“I’m petrified right now to go back to work,’ Frank Sbano told CBS2’s Ali Bauman of the terrifying experience aboard the Q. “I don’t even want to go there right now.”
Sbano was still wearing his MTA uniform hours after getting punched in the head while standing in the conductor’s car, watching commuters board at Prospect Park.
“I was at the window sticking my head out because I gotta see them get on and off safely so when I close the door I don’t close it on them,” he said. “Only thing I knew I got hit then I was on the floor.”
Sbano says he was totally blindsided, unable to get a good look at his assailant. The conductor said he doesn’t even think the attacker said anything before fleeing the station.
Over his 20-year career with the MTA, Sbano has worked every shift and says getting sucker-punched in broad daylight was something he never thought he’d have to worry about.
That is, before this year.
“It seems like it keeps happening lately,” he said. “In the last three weeks a bunch of us are getting hurt.”
His wife Rosemarie wonders what could have prevented the senseless violence.
“What could he have done to protect himself today from something that came out of the blue,” she said.
The Transit Workers Union has asked the MTA to give conductors outward-facing body cameras or put cameras in the cab facing platforms for protection.
“This will help authorities identify, arrest and prosecute those who are responsible for these attacks,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said in a statement sent to CBS2. ““Cameras must only be used as a deterrent to criminal assaults and for evidence gathering when an assault occurs and never for worker surveillance.
The union says it’s hoping to expedite discussions with the MTA to implement the camera program as soon as possible, something that Rosemarie says might put her at ease.
“I pray and I worry about him every day he goes to work,” she said. “Every day.”
Sbano says he isn’t sure when he can return to work, but says he won’t be able to help worrying of danger at every stop.
The MTA would not comment on the union’s request for cameras, but Chairman Joe Lhota said the authority is working with union partners and police to catch the perpetrators and prevent future incidents.