Cab driver is convicted of assaulting his passenger

January 29, 2013

Punch a customer, lose your license. (Jeffrey MacMillan/The Washington Post)

A D.C. cab driver has been convicted of assaulting his passenger, and now his driving privileges have been suspended.

A Superior Court judge on Jan. 9 convicted Kefyalew B. Teshome, 44, of misdemeanor assault in connection with a March incident that ended on the 2000 block of K Street NW.

According to an account contained in the charging document, a customer of Teshome’s became suspicious after noticing his taxi meter wasn’t set to the usual passenger rate but instead to the significantly higher snow emergency rate. The customer confronted Teshome and asked him to pull over.

Teshome pulled over, the charging papers said, but he also zeroed the meter. He instead quoted the customer a fare of $15. The customer objected, and Teshome lowered the fare to $12. The customer then asked Teshome if he had change for a $20 bill; he said he did not.

From the court records: “The [customer] got out of the cab and [Teshome] also got out and ran around the car, grabbed the [customer]‘s jacket and said, Give me the money. The [customer] said he would pay if [Teshome] made change. The [customer] flagged down another cab and [Teshome] started punching the [customer] as he got into the second cab. [Teshome] then fled in his vehicle.”

Unluckily for Teshome, the rider had taken a photo of the taxi license hanging in his cab. A police officer took the photo to the D.C. Taxicab Commission, where he got Teshome’s vital information. He was arrested and convicted after a one-day trial.

Teshome will be sentenced on April 5. But he’s already facing consequences from the D.C. Taxicab Commission, which announced the suspension of Teshome’s license Tuesday, having “determined that an imminent danger is posed to the public.” He can appeal the suspension.

The commission’s chairman, Ron M. Linton, said cab riders “should be assured that we will move swiftly to take action against such unacceptable behavior by drivers.”

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · January 29, 2013