What to Know
- A 65-year-old father and cab driver was killed by his own taxi when he chased after a customer who stole his backpack, police say
- Mohammad Zafrullah's cab was still running with the gear in reverse when police arrived at the scene in the Bronx on Sunday
- Investigators are now searching for surveillance videos of the customer
A 65-year-old father and long-time cab driver was killed in a tragic accident Sunday night in the Bronx when he was run over by his own taxi — and now police are looking for the last person who hailed Mohammad Zafrullah's cab.
Police say Zafrullah was robbed by the person he was driving. The passenger allegedly stole the Brooklyn driver's backpack after asking for a ride to the Bronx -- and Zafrullah got out of his vehicle without properly putting it in park.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found an empty yellow cab with the engine running, the gear in reverse and Zafrullah lying in the middle of the street with head trauma and spinal injuries. He was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.
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Investigators say the person of interest was caught on surveillance camera and officers are looking to question him.
The New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
"These senseless assaults on innocent drivers needs to stop, this City is NOT as safe as some might say. This Driver lost his life for no good reason," said Antonio Cabrera, the President of the NYSFTD.
In a news briefing Tuesday, NYSFTD urged other drivers not to chase alleged thieves while acknowledging, "Every fare to the drivers counts." The group also called for video cameras in every taxi in the city -- and pleaded with the public to come forward.
"I urge the community that if anyone saw anything or has video, contact the police department," Cabrera said. "We need to get this thug off the streets."
A man who lives near where the freak accident occurred, Ed Olivieri, says Zafrullah's cab ran into his parked vehicle and damaged both doors but he didn't witness what happened.
"It’s nothing for me to cry over considering, there was a life lost I can recover from that," Olivieri said. "It’s quite sad considering these men and women are hard workers, probably have families. Tragedy on a beautiful weekend."
Zafrullah had been driving cabs since 1997, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
"We are terribly saddened by this tragedy. The TLC is assisting the NYPD in its investigation, and we have every confidence that they will find the individual(s) involved," TLC said in a statement.