A taxi driver who was found fatally wounded in his cab Saturday was killed in a dispute over 75 cents, police documents show.
Police have charged 20-year-old Rashad Terrell Slye of Southeast with first-degree murder while armed for the shooting of Domingo Ezirike of Prince Georges County.
Police officers discovered 40-year-old Ezirike in the driver's seat of his cab shortly before 4 a.m., sitting in the grass in the 4300 block of Ponds Street Northeast near Anacostia Avenue. Emergency medical personnel found no signs of life.
Blue strobe lights illuminated the intersection on Saturday night after Ezirike was found fatally wounded inside his taxi.
"It's terrible. A lot of this stuff happening. I'm just scared," said Nicole Barnes.
The medical examiner later determined that Ezirike was killed with a gunshot wound to the body, according to police documents.
One of the detectives who found Ezirike told homicide detectives that he had seen the man in his cab during a routine traffic stop less than half an hour before he was found shot, police documents state. He leaned into the cab to tell Ezirike to put on his seatbelt, the detective said, and saw two passengers in the back seat.
Calls made from Slye's cell phone led police to an address in the 1500 block of Anacostia Avenue. A witness there told police that when she got into the cab with Slye, the cabbie asked the two for $20 to drive them into D.C., which she gave him. She also remembered the police traffic stop.
At the final destination, she told police the driver asked for an additional $7.75. She gave him $5 and Slye $2, but the driver and Slye began arguing over the remaining 75 cents.
She told police she got out of the cab and walked away, asking Slye to come with her, but he continued to argue with the cabbie.
A witness at Ponds Street told police to have overheard a man in the cab saying loudly "Give me my $20 back," then demanding to be led out of the cab. The witness told police a black man got out of the back seat with a silver handgun, telling the driver to get out of the car.
The driver got out and lied down on the ground, telling the gunman he didn't have any money. The gunman, the witness said, went through the driver's pockets, where he apparently found some money. The witness told police it seemed as if the suspect tried to shoot the driver once but the gun didn't fire.
The driver took off his pants to prove that he didn't have any money with him. The suspect told the driver to get back into the cab.
He then fired one shot and ran off toward Anacostia Avenue, the witness said.
Ezirike, still alive, was able to reverse the car toward Anacostia Avenue. His cell phone showed a 911 call shortly before 3:30 a.m. Through GPS, the taxi company was able to determine that Ezirike picked up his last customer at the Morgan Boulevard Metro station in Landover. The number used to order the cab was also used to call someone in the 1500 block of Anacostia Avenue.
Police searched that address under a warrant and found the cell phone and a blue jacket the witness at Ponds Street had described. Ezirike's wallet was found behind that building.
Taxi drivers and residents were shaken Sunday.
"Safety is involved, no matter what time you come out," said veteran cabdriver Carolyn Robinson, who says she was assaulted and robbed on the job 13 years ago.
"You have to be on guard," she says, "but you're still defenseless."
Akilah Morgan, visiting a friend near the shooting scene, says safety is an issue for cabdrivers in the area. "There's definitely vulnerability. I wish they'd do something about it."
Few cabdrivers have a divider or other protection from people in the back seat. "They're very vulnerable and they're very open to whatever," Barnes says. "I just feel bad for them. It's dangerous out here."