By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police arrested four teenagers last Tuesday for allegedly robbing and assaulting a cab driver in Flatiron, requiring the victim, who’s in his 60s, to get seven stitches and 15 staples.
The victim was driving on West 21st Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues last Tuesday night when he got out of his cab to remove a construction cone that one of the teens had allegedly thrown into the street.
When he got out of the car, 18-year-old Cervantez Viera, 19-year-old Dumar Kindle, 19-year-old Danziell Taylor and a 17-year-old approached him, the District Attorney’s office said. He and the teens got into an argument and Taylor allegedly smacked the driver in the face, knocking his glasses into the street. The 17-year-old, whose name is being withheld due to his age, told police that the driver got back into his car to park it, then got out again to look for his glasses when he and Kindle got into an argument.
Kindle told police that he had asked the driver if he had change for a 50 but when the driver reportedly cursed at him, Kindle said that he felt disrespected, so he allegedly punched the driver in the face. The blow caused the driver to fall down and he hit his head on a tree. Kindle allegedly told police that he then took $200 in cash out of the victim’s pocket, which he spent later on a cab home and food from McDonald’s.
Viera allegedly went into the driver’s other pocket and the teen told police that he took the victim’s cell phone and bag that were on the passenger seat in the cab. The victim’s iPhone and cash were recovered from the teen’s backpack when he was arrested.
According to the district attorney’s office, Kindle told police that the assault wasn’t planned.
“We were hanging out and one of the guys’ mother wanted us to get something so we went out,” he said. “One of the guys threw a cone onto the street. The cab driver had words with (Taylor, who) punched the cab driver in the face.”
Viera allegedly confirmed that Taylor, Kindle and the teen were there at the time of the incident.
“I didn’t see who punched him. All I saw was blood all over the place,” Viera reportedly told police.
The victim was treated at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where he received the stitches and staples to his upper forehead where his head hit the tree, and he also suffered bruises to his face.
Viera, Francis, Kindle and the other teenager were arrested in connection with this robbery last Wednesday in the 13th Precinct and Taylor was arrested at the 10th precinct on Friday, but some of the teens involved were also charged in connection with two additional robberies, both of which took place in the 10th precinct in November.
Police said that the first of the robberies took place on November 9 around 10 p.m. at the corner of West 28th Street and Ninth Avenue.
Kindle, Taylor and 18-year-old Anwaar Francis had allegedly gotten into a cab at East 19th Street and Irving Place after playing games with their basketball league at Campos Plaza and allegedly attempted to leave without paying for the ride when the driver dropped them off at the Chelsea Houses on the West Side.
“The guy had a feeling we wasn’t going to pay so we got out the car and another person and I attempted to take his phone and prevent calling the cops,” Francis reportedly told police. “I punched him two times after failing to grab the phone then took off, then grabbed his bag and threw it. His wallet dropped and I picked it up and ran.”
Francis added that the driver’s wallet had $4 in it and once he allegedly removed the cash, he threw the wallet out of a building window. The driver recovered his bag without the wallet in it by the bathroom in Chelsea Park.
The third robbery happened after the incident in Flatiron last Wednesday inside a McDonald’s at 335 Eighth Avenue. Police said that Francis, Kindle, Viera and the 17-year-old approached a man inside the restaurant while he was holding several bills in his hand while he was buying food.
The teenagers allegedly followed the victim out of the restaurant, asking him how he got so much money, and reportedly began kicking and punching him. He managed to get away at two different points but the teens allegedly caught up with him both times, and he told police that during the continuous assault, $300 in cash was stolen from him. The victim told police that he received medical treatment at the Lenox Hill HealthPlex for cuts on his arm and pain in his ribs, knee, face and back.
Viera’s attorney did not want to comment on the case, and lawyers for the other suspects could not be reached for comment by T&V’s press time.