Darien banker seeks dismissal in hate crime case
Published 3:25 pm, Friday, June 8, 2012
STAMFORD -- The attorney for a Morgan Stanley executive charged with a hate crime in a taxi fare dispute with a New York City cabbie accused Darien detectives of misleading a judge and thus obtaining a faulty arrest warrant, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
The allegations appear in 10 pages of information filed at state Superior Court to bolster a motion to dismiss the case, which was filed earlier in court proceedings. The attack on the state's case began shortly after William Bryan Jennings, 47, of Knollwood Lane, Darien, was arrested on charges of second-degree intimidation based on race or bigotry, second-degree assault and sixth-degree larceny from the dispute early Dec. 21.
Jennings faces between one and five years in prison on the assault and bias charges, both of which are felonies.
A cab driver accused Jennings of stabbing him in the hand and making a bigoted threat against him during a struggle in the taxi following a trip from Manhattan to Jenning's home in Darien.
Jennings turned himself over to police on Feb. 29 after giving a statement to police that denied several of the accusations, including bigotry and the alleged assault.
His lawyer, Eugene Riccio, filed a motion to dismiss the case in March, arguing the police did not have enough probable cause to make the arrest.
On Thursday, Riccio called the warrant "fatally defective."
The motion to dismiss was made under 1978 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined if probable cause for an arrest warrant was found as the result of a false statement, the warrant is invalid.
The information filed on Wednesday alleges the arrest warrant application contained inaccurate information about the taxi driver's injuries, and that medical records show he was stabbed once in the hand and not twice, as he told police, according to the motion. It also accuses the taxi driver of neglecting to put the trip from Manhattan to Darien on his meter, and says the $204 flat-rate fare the driver requested was not approved by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission's rule book, as the driver claimed.
Riccio also alleged Darien police investigators neglected to include statements from Jennings in an interview before his arrest. The omissions left the judge with a false impression, the filing alleges.
The warrant alleges that the taxi driver told police a "drunk" man stabbed him in the hand and made derogatory comments to him after refusing to pay the fare. The driver said the man cut his finger and palm with a pen knife during the dispute as he was driving off looking for police. The man left the cab after the alleged assault and fled on foot, according to an arrest warrant.
The driver told police that the man, later identified as Jennings, cursed at him and said: "I'm going to kill you; you should go back to your country!"
In his statement to police, Jennings denied threatening the driver.
Detectives said Jennings told them he did not contact police until a friend read about the incident in the newspaper several days later, and because he felt concerned for his safety he had not called police immediately after the incident. Detectives had doubts about his reasons, according to the warrant. They also dismissed Jennings' account that the driver reached into the back of cab to grab Jennings' cellphone while he was driving.
Jennings said the driver grabbed the knife and cut himself, but Darien detectives studied the taxi and said it was "virtually impossible" for the driver to reach through the partition while driving.
Riccio, in the new filing, said the police distorted Jennings' statements and examination of the taxi cab. He said he planned to examine the taxi to prove that the driver could have reached into the back of the cab while driving.
"It's pending litigation, so we don't comment on that," Darien Police Capt. Fred Komm said when contacted about the filing.
Jennings is scheduled to make his next court appearance on June 21, when Riccio plans to argue for a pre-trial evidentiary hearing on the motion to dismiss. Jennings posted $9,500 cash bond after his arrest on Feb. 29 and was released from custody.
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