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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dash cam footage of cabbie beating released

Police on Wednesday released the 911 tape and dash cam footage of the brutal beating of a cab driver injured, as a community continues to seek justice in the case.

The video shows Luis Vasquez punch and choke drier Shukvir Singh during a fight on the shoulder of Interstate 5 in Seattle. Shocked witnesses flooded 911 with calls.

"It looked like a fender bender and then between the two cars, there's a guy (who's) got another guy pinned on the ground and he's stomping on his head," one caller told the 911 operator.

Singh believes he was targeted because as a Sikh, he wears a turban. He says Vasquez called him an "Iraqi terrorist."

Vasquez, 20, has been charged with a hate crime, and it's not the first time he has run into trouble with the law.

According to police, Vaasquez was arrested last year for allegedly slapping his girlfriend during an argument. He is also accused of punching someone else's car during the same fight, leaving a dent.

Singh's community has been rallying around him following the attack. On Wednesday, dozens of people gathered outside the Gurdwara Singh Sabha temple in Renton to pray for justice.

According to a statement of probable cause file in court, Vazquez was kicked out of the Apple Cup at Husky stadium on Saturday and placed into a cab by two police officers who told the driver that Vazquez needed to be taken to his home in Kent.

While the cab was southbound on Interstate 5, police said Vazquez began punching Singh in the head while calling him a terrorist. Singh pulled over and tried to run away, but witnesses told state troopers that Vazquez followed him, knocked him to the ground and continued to kick him in the head.

"I can not imagine anybody who can do this to me," Sing said from his hospital bed on Tuesday. "He said to me 'you are a terrorist, you did the 9-11, and I will kill you.'"

Singh said he knew he was being attacked because of the way he looks. He's not Iraqi -- he's Sikh. He said Vazquez was punching, chocking and biting him while spewing a string of racial slurs. A chunk of Singh's scalp is still missing, and he's being treated for problems with his kidneys and difficulty breathing.

His condition is said to be improving.

Singh's son told KOMO 4 News that his family is forgiving.

"Our religion teaches us to forgive and everybody has a chance in life to help themselves," said Sinarnjeet Singh. "

But Singh's attorney, Harjeep Rekhi, says he wants to see Vasquez charged to the fullest extent of the law.

"I want to see this being charged as a hate crime, I don't want to see it pleaded down later on. I don't want to see the hate element taken out of it." [Link]

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