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Ex-Neb. bus driver who punched rider pleads guilty

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July 19, 2013 02:06 PM EST | AP

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LINCOLN, Neb. — A Lincoln bus driver who was fired after being caught on video punching a passenger has pleaded guilty to assault.

Troy Fischer faces up to a year in jail at his sentencing scheduled for Sept. 18. Online court records say the 43-year-old Fischer changed his plea on the misdemeanor count Thursday. His attorney said Fischer will be seeking probation.

A surveillance video of the incident, which was posted online, showed Fischer repeatedly punching passenger Torrance Rose, 40, on March 23. Fischer also is shown dragging Rose off the vehicle and leaving him on the side of the roadway east of downtown Lincoln.

Fischer eventually was suspended without pay by the city bus service, StarTran, and then fired on April 11.

"This is outside the bounds," the city's personnel director, Doug McDaniels, said after Fischer was fired. "This particular individual went beyond any training."

At a StarTran advisory board meeting in April a co-worker of Fischer, Marilyn Kruger, said Fischer must have snapped.

"That 30 seconds of video is not representative of who he is," Kruger said.

Fischer said he had told Rose he was on the wrong bus, but that Rose didn't seem to understand. Fischer told station KOLN/KGIN after he was fired that he felt threatened by Rose and pressed an emergency button on the bus, seeking help.

But Fischer acknowledged that he wasn't acting in self-defense and said he regretted striking Rose.

A public phone listing for Fischer could not be found on Friday.