Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Samuel Alioto
Observer Staff Writer 

Arrest in Death of Cab Driver in Hollywood over $24.75 Fare

Najib Halibi beat a cab driver to death, because $24.75 was "more than twice what Uber charges"


August 22, 2016

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Just before 3 am Sunday morning, Ethiopian cab driver Asfawosen Alemseged picked up a passenger in downtown LA. They drove to a gas station in Hollywood. A fist fight erupted over whether the cab fare was too high, because it was "more than twice what Uber charges" to drive passengers from downtown LA to Hollywood.

A Lakewood man was charged today with fatally attacking Alemseged, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Friday. Witnesses say Alemseged died when his head hit the pavement. Others say the suspect beat the cabbie to death.

Najib Halibi (dob 5/25/82) was charged with one count of murder along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, making him eligible for the death penalty.

Halibi was a passenger in a taxi shortly after 3 a.m. on Sunday when he allegedly got into a dispute with the driver, 47-year-old Asifawosen Alemseged, at a gas station in Hollywood.

Halibi is accused of exiting the taxi, reaching into the vehicle and grabbing Alemseged and going through his pockets. The victim also got out of the taxi and was allegedly beaten by Halibi, who fled the scene.

If convicted as charged, Halibi faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A decision on whether to seek death will be made at a later date.

An LAYellowcab spokesman said that Alemseged was, "A nice man and well loved by passengers.. . . there are safeguards we have in place to protect our drivers, but you can't prevent everything."

Authorities found the taxi driver, Asfawosen Alemseged, unconscious in the parking lot of a 76 gas station. Alemseged was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died, police said.

Investigators said it appeared Alemseged was first attacked over a fare dispute while he was inside the cab. "This is probably a fare dispute that escalated into a robbery, into a physical assault, to the victim's death," Lt. John Radtke of the LAPD said. Detectives said the altercation then continued outside the vehicle.

The suspect was believed to be a passenger who was being dropped off near the gas station. He was last seen fleeing the scene eastbound on Franklin Avenue, according to Radtke.

In a statement, Yellow Cab said Alemseged worked for the company for 24 years and that he was well known in his native Ethiopian community as a singer, musician, writer and artist.

The intersection of Beachwood Drive and Franklin Avenue was closed for several hours and has since reopened.


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