UPDATE: TCRP Sues APD for Taxi Policy

Suit says police force drivers to transport dangerous drunks

UPDATE: TCRP Sues APD for Taxi Policy

This morning, the Texas Civil Rights Project announced a lawsuit filed against the City of Austin, the Austin Police Department, and several officers, on behalf of taxi driver Akbar Amin-Akbari, charging that in 2011 the driver was ordered to transport a drunk and belligerent passenger – who then attacked him and endangered his life.

According to the complaint filed June 7 in federal court, APD officers commandeered Amin-Akbari's cab and ordered him to drive the visibly drunken and disorderly Dustin Christopher Rowden to his home near William Cannon Drive. Amin-Akbari attempted to do so, but according to the complaint, Rowden verbally abused and then physically attacked him, threatened to kill him and attempted to take the wheel.

Amin-Akbari was able to pull off I35 and stop at a convenience store on Oltorf, where Rowden continued to attack him until he was restrained by passers-by and eventually arrested. Amin-Akbari suffered serious and ongoing injuries, the complaint claims.

According to the complaint, "APD officers have a persistent widespread practice of forcing taxi cab drivers into service transporting intoxicated persons to their homes. This practice is so common and well-settled that is constitutes a custom that fairly represents APD policy." The lawsuit seeks actual and punitive damages under violations of the Fourth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The TCRP has also filed a separate lawsuit in state court against Rowden (who is reportedly facing felony charges in connection with the incident) for "assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress."

Update: Late Monday the APD released the following: "The Austin Police Department has been made aware of the lawsuit that was filed by Mr. Akbar Amin-Akbari. At this time APD has not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit in detail. Due to the pending litigation, APD will not make any further comment regarding this incident at this time."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Texas Civil Rights Project
Cap 10K Not So Accessible
Cap 10K Not So Accessible
TCRP files suit against Cox Texas and city of Austin

Jordan Smith, July 27, 2012

TYC to Open Doors, Close Bedrooms
TYC to Open Doors, Close Bedrooms
Children's prison system signs major legal settlement

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 6, 2008

More Austin Police Department
Police Association Accuses Protesters of Giving Cops COVID-19
Police Association Accuses Protesters of Giving Cops COVID-19
So here’s a photo gallery of officers not wearing masks at protests

Kevin Curtin, July 1, 2020

APD Racism Report:
APD Racism Report: "These Are Some Real Cultural Issues"
Third-party probe leaves charges made against top brass unconfirmed

Austin Sanders, April 17, 2020

More by Michael King
Dana DeBeauvoir Fought for Election Access in a Year of Barriers
Dana DeBeauvoir Fought for Election Access in a Year of Barriers

Nov. 27, 2020

Texas Book Festival 2020: Isabel Wilkerson on <i>Caste</i>
Texas Book Festival 2020: Isabel Wilkerson on Caste
Festival talk highlights structural foundations of U.S. divisions

Nov. 17, 2020


Texas Civil Rights Project, Austin Police Department, Akbar Amin-Akbari, Dustin Christopher Rowden

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle