NEW YORK — A cab driver who claims a passenger punched and bit him says police officers told him they'd arrest him if he filed a complaint.
Haroon Rashid said that after he then declined to file a complaint, the officers let the passenger go and left without helping him get medical attention. He said he needed more than 10 stitches for the bite behind his ear and bandages for injuries to his face.
"I was bleeding," Rashid said Thursday. "He (the passenger) was not even bleeding, but still they don't show me any sympathy."
Rashid, 40, showed reporters the stitches running up the back of his ear and photos of him with bandages on his head from the encounter he said he had Sunday night.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents drivers, is calling for an investigation.
"This is absolutely outrageous, and it is unacceptable," Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai said.
Police officials said they were looking into the incident.
Rashid, who has been driving a taxi for 15 years, said he picked up a man and a woman on the west side of Manhattan around 11 p.m. Sunday and took them a couple of miles uptown.
He stopped on the west side of 10th Avenue. He said the couple became irate that he hadn't stopped on the east side but instead told them to cross over because other cars were coming, making it difficult for him to drive over.
Rashid said that the couple initially said they weren't going to pay the fare but then the woman told the man to pay it. He said the man told the woman to exit the car and gave him the money but then reached through the security partition between the front and back seats and started hitting him in the head and bit him.
He said he called 911 but when officers arrived they told him that the passenger said they both had been fighting and that they would have to arrest both men if a complaint was made.
Rashid said he decided not to file a complaint because he needed medical attention and didn't want to be arrested. The passenger and his companion were allowed to leave, and the officers left as well.
Desai said cabbies face suspensions of their licenses if they are arrested even if their cases later are dismissed, which can leave them without income and makes the potential of an arrest a deterrent.
—Copyright 2011 Associated Press
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