CATS bus driver accused of stopping on the job at a liquor store

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A CATS bus driver has been fired after surveillance video showed him purchasing alcohol on the job, while in uniform.

Channel 9 exclusively obtained the video and internal CATS documents that detail the investigation into the alleged incident on Oct. 2 at the ABC store off Mount Holly-Huntersville Road.

According to the city documents and the video, driver William Brown walked into the store near the end of his shift on Oct. 2, around 5 p.m.

The video shows Brown, in CATS uniform, purchasing a pint of tequila and a pint of whiskey, paying in cash and exiting the store with a brown bag in his hand.

Moments after the video shows Brown boarding the bus with a brown bag, a CATS superintendent pulls up and confronts him.

"You didn't get anything out of the store?" she asked Brown, who responded, "No, I got my Pepsi right here…Pepsi, nothing in my Pepsi."

On the recorded audio, Brown tells the superintendent he had only stopped at the store for a bathroom break, although internal documents note Brown failed to notify dispatch of a bathroom stop, which is standard protocol.

"You went into the ABC store to use the bathroom?" The superintendent asked, and Brown responded, "Yeah, I've done that before, I have."

The video shows the superintendent placing a short phone call, and then tells Brown to finish his route and go home.

Transit Management of Charlotte Inc. is a private company under contract with the city to oversee day-to-day operations at CATS. The day after the incident at the ABC store, an internal document showed Transit Management fired Brown for "dishonesty … conduct unbecoming … and violating the Substance Abuse Policy."

Through a grievance process, documents show the United Transportation Union, which represents Brown and other CATS drivers, got Brown temporarily reinstated on Oct. 21.

But Thursday, CATS officials told Channel 9 after they reviewed the incident last week, Brown was terminated again on Oct. 28.

"We are making a review of all the policies and procedures and decisions made from there on," said CATS Director of Marketing Olaf Kinard.

Kinard said although Transit Management manages the workers, the city of Charlotte is ultimately responsible for the employees, and the policies and procedures, which is why CATS officials overruled Transit Management's decision to reinstate Brown.

Kinard said CATS randomly tests all drivers for drugs and alcohol use, and maintained the public safety was never at risk.

"There were no customers on the vehicle, there is no indication that any [alcohol] consumption had occurred," Kinard said.

Eyewitness News went to Brown's home Thursday to ask him about the investigation, but he declined to comment.