‘Hate crime’: Taxi driver recounts brutal attack  

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'Hate crime': Taxi driver recounts brutal attack
SEATTLE – Officers arrested a 26-year-old man early Sunday after he called a taxi driver a “terrorist” and beat him unconscious, causing the cab to drift out of control and strike several parked cars before slamming into an apartment building in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, police said.

Investigators labeled the attack a “hate crime.”

Adam Gaal, the 34-year-old cab driver, told police the incident began when he picked up three men and a woman in Belltown just before 2 a.m. Sunday and drove them to the 4200 block of 27th Avenue West.

The suspect then gave Gaal his credit card to pay for the trip and apparently became angry at how long the transaction was taking, said Andrew Garber of the Seattle police.

“He says, ‘You know where you are? You’re in America, this is not where you come from. You are an immigrant this is not your country. You are terrorist. You are ISIS,” Gaal said.

The passenger, later identified as Jesse Fleming, then leaned across the seat and repeatedly punched Gaal in the face, Garber said.

Gaal lost consciousness and his foot slipped off the brake, causing the cab to roll downhill, strike several cars and eventually come to a stop after crashing into the stairs of an apartment building.

“He just jump on me and punching me, beating me, punching me and I become unconscious,” Gaal said.

Once the car stopped, Gaal regained consciousness. Meanwhile Fleming ran down the hill and then resumed punching the driver as two other male passengers joined in, according to police.

Eventually neighbors in the area came out of their homes to investigate the noise, and Fleming and the other passengers fled the scene, Garber said.

Fleming returned to the scene while police were there investigating the incident. He admitted to being involved, but claimed self-defense. After he was identified by the driver, police arrested him and booked the suspect into King County Jail for investigation of malicious harassment.

Gaal was treated at the scene by medics. Gaal, who’s originally from Somalia, has been in the United States for more than a decade and said he never expected to deal with anything like this.

“I didn’t harm anybody, I didn’t cause any problem. All of a sudden somebody attack me,” he said.

Fleming, who is in the US Navy stationed in Everett, is facing numerous charges.


Kasmaal Information Center/London /UK