By: Kaylin Young
WASHINGTON D.C.–A 15-year-old was charged with aggravated assault Monday, after reportedly attacking a taxi driver last week outside the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Northwest D.C. He was with four other teenagers when the attack occurred, but only one is facing charges.
D.C. police said the teen whose name is not being released due to age, punched 60-year-old Terfneh Kahsay in the face, leaving him bloody and causing him to lose two teeth. Authorities said Kahsay had multiple lacerations to his face, nose, and mouth.
In photos shown to FOX 5, the victim’s left eye was swollen shut, his nose bloodied, and two of his front teeth visibly missing.
In a conversation with FOX 5, the victim implied the attack was also sexual in nature.
“The first one, he touched my private,” Kahsay said, “I thought it was accident… and then the second one, he did the same thing… and then, he gave me a punch. Another kid behind me, he pushed me to the ground hard.”
Kahsay is one of many taxi drivers who are at risk of ridesharing violence. According to a study conducted at Penn State University, taxi and for-hire drivers have been approximately 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job or experience workplace violence than other occupations since 1998.
In Washington D.C. alone, taxi violence has surged in the past two years. In January, a taxi driver was carjacked in Northwest D.C. by two armed subjects who stole his wallet, cell phone, cash, and then the vehicle.
Last summer, D.C. police arrested two 15-year-olds tied to four taxi robberies and thefts that took place between May 24 and June 22. The previous summer, two men were arrested and charged with robberies by force and violence in Southeast D.C.
In an Uber-era, where for-hire drivers are identified by no more than a dashboard sticker, ridesharing services can be dangerous for passengers and drivers.
Ronald Young, 58, started driving for Uber when the app first hit the D.C. market in 2011 as a side hustle outside of his day job, but a lot has changed in the past eight years.
“When I first started driving for Uber…most of my riders were middle-to-upper-class professionals traveling to and from work during the day or young professionals going out for happy hour at night.”
While Young’s 220-pound, 6 foot 5 inch frame is no competition for many of his riders, last November, he realized there was more he needed to protect himself from.
“Last November, I picked up a single rider in an Uberpool, which meant I was picking up other riders,” Young recalled
backseat told me not to stop, then pulled a knife out and demanded I give him my wallet and drop him off at the upcoming corner,” he said.
That experience didn’t turn Young off from the overall ridesharing experience, however, he no longer travels with spare change late at night.
“Thank God I walked away with just a few dollars missing.”
Last February, a Lyft driver was shot and killed in Detroit. This is what some Lyft and Uber drivers blame on lack of passenger profile identity.
Ridesharing companies require background checks, ID copies, and personal information for their drivers, none of this information is required for riders. Upon requesting a ride, riders see the rating, photo, and car information from their driver. However, drivers don’t have that same privilege of secure rider identity.
This lack of security led Lawrence Mansour to create TripCam, a video and tablet system that records riders and stores the footage in case it is needed for police or court records. TripCam has helped capture passengers misbehaving or stealing things in the car. Mansour’s main objective is to keep drivers and passengers safe.
“If the drivers don’t feel safe and secure, the amount of drivers on the platform will decrease, meaning that the prices will increase and the wait times will increase,” Mansour said.
For taxi drivers like Kahsay, any type of recording would help in the search for the other four teens, who investigators are still looking for in connection to the brutal robbery.
Although the attack occurred in front of the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, video footage of the attack has not surface. The hotel refused to comment.