Police probe assault allegations after confrontation between cabbies, group of men
Cabbie reported being hit in face with a bottle during altercation with passenger Saturday, taxi company owner says
Assault allegations are flying following a confrontation between about 15 Iqaluit taxi drivers and a group of people, including a couple passengers, Saturday evening, according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Pauline Melanson.
Melanson said she heard there were allegations of assault by both a group of cabbies and a group opposing the taxi drivers.
The matter is under investigation, she told Nunatsiaq News on Monday.
Caribou Tuktu Cabs owner Danny Savard said one of the company’s drivers had a bottle smashed into his face by an unruly passenger once both were outside the cab.
Savard said he was getting his information Monday from the company’s drivers and will know more by Wednesday.
Based on information from Caribou’s drivers, Savard said two men jumped in a taxi when the driver was picking up a different customer in the Four Corners area. The taxi driver then drove the two fares to their destination, a house near Hunter’s Market, Savard said.
After an argument over who was paying for the ride, the driver kicked the two people out of the car, Savard said. Once they were outside, one of them allegedly hit the driver in the face with a beer bottle as the driver was walking back to his car, according to Savard.
Just before leaving his car, the taxi driver sent a call to his fellow drivers for assistance and 15 of them showed up, Savard said. A group of people associated with the passenger then came out of the house and a group of people in a pickup truck, associated with the passenger also showed up, he added.
As well, Savard said one of the individuals from the pickup truck whipped a chain at one of the cab drivers at the scene.
Mayor Kenny Bell said he spoke with Savard and heard the same account.
Bell also said he received a video that shows someone yelling a racial slur at the drivers.
“It’s not a good sight,” Bell said.
Melanson said the RCMP received calls from both taxi drivers and members of the other group as the alleged confrontation was unfolding Saturday. Police received their first call about the incident at 5:08 p.m.
Savard said he heard it took the RCMP around 45 minutes to respond to the incident, but he added he is trying to get more details from drivers. Melanson said she did not know how long it took for RCMP officers to arrive.
In his conversation with Savard, Bell said he was told the taxi drivers at the scene got into physical altercations as a means of self-defence.
But Bell added that the conflict likely escalated because so many taxi drivers showed up at the incident.
“That’s not a good look either,” Bell said.
Savard said Caribou Tuktu Cabs is working on a policy on how many drivers should respond to an incident. He added that 15 drivers responding to this incident was more than necessary, but drivers have received an increased amount of abuse over the last year.
The main reason for a policy is to ensure other drivers can respond to an incident quickly and help fellow drivers if the RCMP cannot, he said.
If abuse towards taxi drivers continues, the drivers will stage another walkout similar to one that took place in September after cabbies said their vehicles were pelted with rocks, Savard said.
Bell said he is still gathering information, but adds that if it did take 45 minutes for the RCMP to respond, that time needs to be improved. The mayor told Nunatsiaq News he has a meeting with the RCMP on Tuesday.
Bell also said that taxis are an essential service, and he wants to prevent another walkout from occurring.