The Washington Post

Man charged in fatal shooting of cabdriver in Adams Morgan ordered held in jail

Deborah Lamey, a driver with same company as Solomon Okorah, uses her phone to take pictures of the scene of a shootout with police in the 1700 block of Kalorama Road on Wednesday. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered a Northwest man charged with the fatal shooting of a D.C. cabdriver in Adams Morgan to remain in jail until his next hearing.

Magistrate Judge Karen Howze ordered Ercell Overton, 32, held on a second-degree murder charge in connection with Tuesday’s fatal shooting and robbery of Solomon Okoroh, 57, a father of five who had been driving for Classic Cab for 15 years to support his family.

Overton’s attorney, Renee Raymond of the D.C. Public Defender Service, repeatedly argued that it was not her client who shot Okoroh — that it was his friend, Joshua King, 24, of Hyattsville. Both men were arrested minutes after the slaying, but prosecutors have not charged King with any offenses related to the shooting.

Raymond said in court that King gave Overton the gun after shooting Okoroh and that both men fled, running through Ontario and Kalorama roads.

D.C. police said officers in a robbery unit patrolling the 2400 block of Ontario Road about 3:15 a.m. saw the taxi go by and heard the gunshot. The officers chased Overton and King, and a gun battle erupted with dozens of bullets exchanged, police have said.

An undated photo of Solomon J. Okoro. (Courtesy of Classic Cab)

“There might be a case here for my client on assaulting a police officer or burglary, but not second-degree murder,” Raymond said.

Overton, according to court documents, pointed a gun directly at one of the officers during the chase. Meanwhile, Okoroh, mortally wounded, was on the ground near his cab.

Overton began shooting at the officers a second time, according to court records, as he continued running past a rowhouse in the 2300 block of Ontario Road. The officers fired back, authorities said in court papers.

Overton then kicked in the front door of a basement apartment ,where he tried to hide, police said. Residents ran out of the apartment. About an hour later, after additional police and a K-9 unit descended on the apartment, Overton was arrested. Police said they found a black, .380 handgun in the apartment.

King, who had run in a different direction, also was arrested, authorities said.

Prosecutors argued in court that there was “overwhelming evidence” connecting Overton to the shooting because the bullets found at the shooting site matched the handgun found near Overton.

King has been charged with violating probation regarding possession of a weapon. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the investigation into the shooting was continuing.

On Wednesday, D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) called for increased safety measures for cabs.

In addition to panic buttons installed near the drivers, Graham said, cabs should have safety windows that separate the drivers from riders, similar to those required in New York. Graham said the city, not the cabdrivers or their companies, should pay for those changes.

Justin Jouvenal contributed to this report.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.


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