Minneapolis police suspect robbery; driver hit after refusing to make change, taxi operations director says.
A Minneapolis cabdriver was hospitalized in fair condition Thursday after a passenger beat him with a hatchet handle in what police called "a very unusual and particularly frightening" attack.
Mohd Farahid, who also goes by the name Mohammed, had surgery at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he was taken after the attack in north Minneapolis, said Scott Salin, operations director for Blue & White/ABC Taxi.
Farahid, 51, suffered several broken bones in his arm and had a gash to his head when he was hit while picking up a fare just after midnight near 34th and Colfax Avenues N., Salin said.
According to Salin, the incident began when the passenger asked Farahid to "change a big bill." Farahid refused.
The passenger then said "that maybe he had a $5" and opened his jacket. Farahid saw the handle of something and tried to flee the cab.
He slipped and fell on the ice and then was hit in the head by the passenger with the black-handled object, said Lt. Greg Reinhardt of the Minneapolis Police Department.
"This is very unusual and particularly frightening," Reinhardt said. Occasionally taxi drivers will be attacked with a knife or a gun, he said, "but not a hatchet. This is so unique and out of the blue. This is a rare event."
Reinhardt said robbery was a possible motive for the attack, but the suspect didn't get any money.
Police don't have a good description of the suspect, who fled the scene before police arrived. They will canvass the neighborhood and try to determine who called for the taxi and the phone number where the call came from, Reinhardt said.
Farahid has driven for Blue & White/ABC for 10 years, Salin said. He said that cases such as this "remind us that we are in a dangerous business."
Anybody with information is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Department's Robbery Unit at 612-673-2941.
According to the U.S. Labor Statistics, more than 100 cabdrivers nationwide were assaulted in 2006, the latest year for which figures were available.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768