CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte man has been charged with aggravated assault after he is accused of brutally beating a transgender woman on a Charlotte Area Transit (CATS) bus over the weekend. Video of the attack was posted on social media Wednesday night and went viral.
According to police, the attack happened early Saturday morning on a CATS bus along the 400-block of N Tryon Street in Charlotte. An officer was reportedly flagged down by a man who witnessed the attack, telling the officer that the victim was punched and kicked in the face by a man on the bus.
The 24-year-old victim, who goes by Jayla Ware, was taken to Presbyterian Hospital to be treated for her injuries, which includes a broken jaw. She was later released from the hospital.
Graphic video was posted to Facebook showing a man, later identified as Roy Eugene-Lav Hedman, hitting and kicking Ware in the head multiple times. The video was shared thousands of times before being removed from the social network.
The video shows Hedman and Ware engaged in an argument on the bus before Ware stands up, leans over Hedman and pushes his head to the side.
Hedman then stands up and attacks Ware. He can be seen in the video violently punching her in the head more than two dozen times.
**WARNING: The video below is very graphic. WBTV has edited the video and removed the most violent portions. Viewer discretion is advised.
When Ware appears to be knocked out from the punches, Hedman then stomps her in the head with his boots. He stomped on her head at least twelve times.
According to officials, police began searching the area immediately for the Hedman. He was located and arrested a short distance away from where the incident occurred. He is charged with aggravated assault inflicting serious injury.
WBTV spoke to Ware on Thursday. She said Hedman was a friend, and that she has known him for some time. She said Hedman's sister even visited her after the attack.
She said others have also reached out to her.
"I'm glad that a lot of people really have stepped up... tried to reach out to me," she said. "And I thank God, because, if anything - I could have been dead."
Ware said her face is still swollen in several places and she'll have to have surgery on her broken jaw. She says she's still in pain and has trouble swallowing and eating.
Hedman has been arrested at least 20 times in Charlotte on various charges including resisting arrest, trespassing, protective order violation, drug charges, breaking and entering, common law robbery and probation violations. Hedman has also been charged with assault on a female three separate times - in January 2018, December 2017 and May 2017.
Ware can't remember anything about what happened but says she has been in fights before. This time she never punched back.
"I didn't do none of the sorts," she said. "I was just gone and getting my face teared through."
Ware says that's not the life she wants to be associated with anymore.
"It's time to slow it down a bit. I don't have time to be getting my jaw broken again," she said.
Ware says she knew several of the people on the bus that night, none of which stepped in to stop the attack. She added that she's learned from the experience, and has a message for others.
"Watch out for who your friends are - who you think they are," she said. "Pick and choose your friends wisely."
She is grateful that she wasn't hurt more and is ready to move on, saying "I need to keep my head forward and keep a smile on my face."
Charlotte Area Transit released a statement to WBTV about the assault that states, in part:
"Safety protocols and procedures were followed. All CATS vehicles have several security cameras used to help ensure the safety of our customers and employees [...] The suspect has been banned from all CATS property and vehicles for one year. CATS urges customers to report any and all criminal activity by calling 911 or using the CATS See Say app."