Sikh cab driver injured in assault; Kent man arrested
Seattle Times staff reporter
A 20-year-old Kent man was arrested Saturday for allegedly assaulting a taxi driver in what police say may have been a hate crime.
The Washington State Patrol said the man was a passenger in the victim's cab. The 48-year-old driver, who is Sikh, was hospitalized after the alleged attack.
The suspect was released from the King County Jail on a $25,000 bond Monday night. He has not been charged.
The cab driver picked up the suspect before 8 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium, from which he had been escorted during the Apple Cup. The fan had apparently been attending the game with a friend who was an Iraq war veteran, said Trooper Jeff Merrill.
Shortly into the cab ride, the fan began yelling obscenities at the driver, using racial slurs and calling him an "Iraqi terrorist," Merrill said.
At some point the man began hitting the driver in the head and neck, and on southbound Interstate 5 near the West Seattle Bridge, the taxi driver pulled over on the shoulder and got out of the cab, Merrill said.
The passenger followed the driver, pushing him to the pavement, and continued to punch and kick him, Merrill said. During the brawl the passenger pulled off the taxi driver's turban and ripped out a chunk of the driver's scalp and hair, Merrill said.
A Metro bus pulled alongside the cab and stopped in traffic, and passengers on the bus who witnessed the assault called 911, Merrill said.
When troopers arrived, the taxi passenger was trying to board the bus for a ride home, Merrill said. The taxi driver was badly bruised and was taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center.
The Sikh Coalition, a national organization formed after Sept. 11 to help combat racism against Sikhs, issued a news release Monday condemning the attack.
The coalition identified the victim as Sukhvir Singh, and said Singh had stopped to eat Saturday when police officers asked him to drive home an intoxicated man they had removed from the Apple Cup game.
Singh was hospitalized overnight, the coalition said in its release.
Jasmit Singh, a Washington-based board member of the Sikh Coalition, called for prosecutors to charge the alleged attacker with a hate crime.
"Our public officials need to take a strong stance against bias. We expect that this incident will be investigated and prosecuted as a hate crime," Jasmit Singh said in the statement.
Merrill said investigators will work with prosecutors once the investigation is finished to determine how the man should be charged.
The victim, Sukhvir Singh, also issued a statement in the release. "I am in a lot of pain, and don't understand why someone would do this to me. I love America and hope that in my case, justice will be done," he said.
Brian Alexander: 206-464-2026 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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