UPDATE: TCRP Sues APD for Taxi Policy
Suit says police force drivers to transport dangerous drunks
By Michael King,
10:30PM, Mon. Jun. 10, 2013
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."