An attorney for a man who jumped on the hood of a school bus in Parkville last week disputed the police account of the incident, arguing that the bus driver left his client no other choice.
Leverne Doran, 68, was charged with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, obstructing a school bus driver and malicious destruction of property, according to Baltimore County court records.
But his attorney, Steven Silverman, placed the blame on the Loch Raven middle school bus driver, who he said inched the bus toward Doran when he tried to stop him to tell him about a bottle being thrown out the window by a student.
The bus driver “was acting like Otto Mann from ‘The Simpsons,’ ” Silverman said, referring to the school bus driver in the animated TV series.
“All [Doran] was doing was what any responsible adult would do, which is inform the bus driver that he’s got a juvenile delinquent in his care who’s throwing projectiles at motorists,” the attorney said.
The incident happened about 3:15 p.m. Thursday at the corner of Putty Hill and Hoerner avenues, police said.
Doran had been driving with his wife when a bottle — it’s unclear what kind — hit their windshield, Silverman said.
He stopped his car next to the bus, got out and knocked on the school bus doors, but the driver refused to open them, police said. He moved in front of the bus with his hands up, telling the bus driver to stop.
Accounts differ on what happened next.
The witness who first called 911 told police that the bus had not been moving when Doran jumped on the front bumper and yelled at the driver.
The responding officer asked the woman specifically whether Doran jumped onto the bus because it was moving at him, according to the police report.
“She then stated, ‘No,’ and explained that the subject jumped on the hood before the bus began to drive away,” the officer wrote.
Silverman said the bus driver inched the bus repeatedly forward while Doran stood in front of it, mocking him and threatening to run him over if he didn’t move.
“Mr. Doran had no option other than to literally jump on the hood of the bus,” Silverman said. “The bus driver continued to drive 25 miles an hour down the street with Doran on the hood. It’s unconscionable to me. If anyone should be charged with a crime, it should be the bus driver.”
The driver, who told police he feared for his and the students’ safety, turned left onto Hoerner Avenue, right on Ellen Avenue, then right onto Old Harford Road with Doran still on the hood. The driver intended to take the bus to the Parkville police precinct, he told police.
The driver’s name was redacted from the police report. The Baltimore County public school system’s chief of staff, Mychael Dickerson, confirmed he is a school system employee, as opposed to a private contractor, but declined to release his name or comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
The bus stopped at a red light on Old Harford Road, at which point Doran got off, walked back around to the doors and wrenched them open to confront the driver, police said.
In the process, he broke a bus door handle, police said.
An off-duty police detective at the scene persuaded Doran to leave the bus, at which point the bus driver drove away out of fear for his and his students’ safety, police said. He was interviewed by another police officer nearby.
Ten students were aboard the bus at the time, and counseling was offered to them at school, according to Dickerson.
Silverman dismissed the notion that Doran presented any threat to the bus driver or students.
“We’re not talking about a masked man who ran out of a bank holding a handgun,” he said.
Doran worked for 18 years as a teacher in Baltimore public schools, dealing primarily with students who had emotional and behavioral problems, Silverman said. He had no prior criminal record.
“He absolutely felt a responsibility to let the school bus driver know that there was a child in his custody and care that almost killed someone as they drove down the road,” he said.
Video footage of Doran yelling and clinging to the front of a moving school bus makes him look unreasonable, but the bus driver could have prevented the situation by stopping the bus and having a conversation with him, Silverman said.
“Taken out of context, it makes Mr. Doran seem irrational, when — if you understand the circumstances — it’s understandable how it got to this,” he said.
No one was injured in the incident.
Doran has been released on his own recognizance, Silverman said. A trial date has not been set.