About 3:30 Saturday morning, a taxicab was stopped by D.C. police in Northeast Washington for a safety compliance check. An officer looked into the cab and recognized that something was wrong: The driver’s seat belt was not fastened.
The officer told the driver to buckle up. What the officer could not see was that a man in the back of the cab apparently had a gun.
Within 30 minutes, two or three blocks from the traffic stop, the man with the gun robbed, shot and killed the cabdriver, police said.
The incident is described in a sworn statement police filed in court Monday in support of a charge of first-degree murder against Rashad Slye, 20, of Minnesota Avenue SE in connection with the killing of Domingo Ezirike on Ponds Street NE.
The killing was one of at least nine in the city in eight days, and the police description of the shooting is one of the most vivid in any of the cases.
The statement, which quotes two witnesses, details the encounter with police that preceded the fatal shooting and tells of a quarrel between Ezirike and Slye over conditions in the cab. It also offers an account of the final moments of the cab driver’s life.
“I’m not playing with you. Where is the money?” — or words to that effect — were uttered by the man who robbed Ezirike before he was shot, police said one of the witnesses said.
The other witness said that events began when Slye phoned for a cab Saturday morning to take him and a companion to Ponds Street from the Morgan Boulevard Metro station in the Landover area, police said. The driver, Ezirike, asked for and was given $20 in advance, the statement says, quoting the witness.
During the ride, that witness told police, Slye asked that the cab’s heat and radio be turned on. Ezirike refused, the witness said, and an argument between Slye and Ezirike ensued.
After reaching the District, the witness said, the cab was stopped at the roadblock in the 4500 block of Quarles Street NE, and Ezirike was reminded about his seat belt. An officer who conducted the safety check made eye contact with the witness. The officer apparently was later able to describe one of the people in the back of the cab.
After the check, the cab traveled to the 4300 block of Ponds Street, where, the witness said, Ezirike stopped and asked for an additional $7.75. He was given $7 but insisted on the full amount. Slye began arguing over the remaining 75 cents, the witness said.
The witness left the cab, calling for Slye to follow — but the argument continued. The witness never saw a gun or heard a shot, the police statement says.
The second witness was in the area where Ezirike was found, the statement says. He described the robber as being much older than Slye. The presence of the witness at that spot was not explained.
That witness, the affidavit says, heard an argument between Ezirike and someone in the cab’s back seat and said that at one point a male voice demanded: “Give me my $20 back.”
The witness saw a man get out of the back of the cab and order Ezirike out. Ezirike said he had no money. The robber went through his pockets, hit him over the head with the gun and continued to search him. The witness heard the gun click, as if the trigger had been pulled. The gun apparently misfired, the statement says.
The robber searched the cab. Then, the witness said, after telling the driver he was “not playing,” the robber ordered Ezirike back into the vehicle. As the driver sat behind the wheel, the account says, one shot was fired. Ezirike fell back into the seat and was still.
The police statement says that officers searched in and around an address near the site of the shooting. Officers said they found a cellphone used to call the cab, a jacket similar to one described by a witness and a wallet containing items that belonged to Ezirike.
There have been at least 12 homicides in the District this month. Police have announced arrests in seven cases.