Man ‘steals’ taxi in Gramercy, then crashes it, injuring four

Ilir Kuka was arrested in February after allegedly driving off in the cab he’d been riding in, going the wrong direction and hitting a minivan. (Pictured) Emergency responders at the scene (Photo by Steve Kaufman)

Ilir Kuka was arrested in February after allegedly driving off in the cab he’d been riding in, going the wrong direction and hitting a minivan. (Pictured) Emergency responders at the scene (Photo by Steve Kaufman)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested a 26-year-old man early Sunday morning after he reportedly went on a joyride in a cab he stole in Gramercy, resulting in the hospitalization of four people.

The trouble started when a cab driver picked up Miguel Batiz and his coworker near East 21st Street and Second Avenue at 5:30 a.m. They got into the cab, and the driver said that Batiz told him to take them to the Bronx. When the driver asked what the exact address was for where they wanted to go, he said that Batiz began giving him directions that would not take them to the Bronx. The driver said that Batiz started to get agitated, then opened the partition between the front and backseat of the cab. The suspect then allegedly grabbed the driver by his collar, pushed him and said, “drive me where I tell you to go.”

At this point, the driver got nervous so he pulled the cab over and turned on his emergency light. Police said that Batiz then got out of the cab, opened the front passenger door and started punching the driver. He then allegedly grabbed the driver by the head and told him that if he didn’t drive him where he wanted to go, he would cut him.

The driver said that Batiz grabbed at his waistline, where the victim believed he had a knife, although the driver said he did not see a weapon. Batiz allegedly put the victim in a headlock and said, “If you won’t drive, I will.”


According to the District Attorney’s office, Batiz then pushed the driver out of the cab and drove away at Second Avenue and East 18th Street. While driving down Second Avenue, he allegedly crashed into another car on the road, which caused the driver to lose control and crash into a parked car at Second Avenue and East 15th Street. Police said that the accident caused three people to be taken to the hospital.

After the crash at East 15th Street, Batiz allegedly drove off again, this time towards the Manhattan Bridge where police said that he got on driving against traffic towards Brooklyn. Police saw Batiz driving the cab and said that he almost collided with two other vehicles, and ultimately did crash into another taxi cab, which resulted in another person being taken to the hospital.

The DA’s office said that Batiz continued driving for about two more miles before he stopped and after police detained him, he allegedly said that he was drunk and had been drinking. Police said that he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and an unsteady gait. The DA’s office said that Batiz had a blood alcohol content of 0.11, while the legal limit for driving is 0.08. Batiz’s coworker was also discovered unconscious in the back seat of the cab Batiz allegedly stole and was taken to the hospital as well.

The suspect was also charged with grand larceny, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident, and his Legal Aid attorney did not return a request for comment.

This arrest comes two months after a similar incident, in which Ilir Kuka, 25, allegedly took off in a taxi that wasn’t his and crashed it in front of Stuyvesant Town, injuring another driver.

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