elizalavelle: (Firefly - Kaylee the hell with that)
[personal profile] elizalavelle
I've just got permission to share this story with you all and I feel that it's a really important cautionary tale no matter where you live. Please remember to be safe in taxis and be really cautious with police officers, clearly not all of them are doing their job for the right reasons.

I've also purposely left this post open so anyone can read it, not just my LJ friends. Feel free to link this to your friends.



This is a "happened to a friend of a friend of mine" story. It's not an urban legend, it has not been copied and pasted hundreds of times, but it didn't happen to me directly so I may not be able to answer any questions this raises. I personally believe it's entirely true which is why I'm sharing it.

About a month ago this person (who I'm naming Jane for ease of telling the story) was over at her friend's place for dinner. At 1am Jane decided to call a cab to take her home as she had had a couple of glasses of wine and didn't feel like taking public transit at that hour. It's important to note that she'd had a couple of glasses of wine with dinner so she wasn't hammered, it's not as though she was coming from a house party or anything. It's also important to note that Jane is a well educated, middle class white woman. She's well dressed and well spoken. We're not dealing with someone who brings trouble upon themself.

She called a taxi (to avoid my getting sued for lible I'm not naming the cab company online - they're probably the most well known one in TO however) and shortly thereafter got into her cab. The driver promptly drove around the block twice and then started heading south when Jane's house was north. Jane notices this and says to the driver that he's going the wrong way. In reply he calls her a "whore."

It's probably also important to note that the driver in question was Muslim. Not because all Muslims are bad people but because that religion often devalues women and the moment he calls Jane "whore" it's clear that he personally has no respect for her at all.

Jane is now worried. She takes a photo with her cellphone of the taxi going the wrong way down the street and begins to ask the driver to stop the cab because she wants to get out. He refuses to stop at her request.

Fortunately for Jane they hit a red light and he did stop for that and she got out of the cab. The driver got out as well and starts yelling at her.

At this point Jane still just wants to get home. She calls the taxi company again and asks for another cab who knows where they're going because her assumption is that the driver was trying to pull that trick of driving around to bump up the fare. I hope that was all it was but the minute he called her a whore a whole and then refused to stop the taxi a whole other set of implications open up.

While this is happening the police arrive on the scene. One officer goes to speak with the cab driver, the other officer speaks to her. The cab driver says she's skipping out on the fare (which is $15) and Jane says she's not paying for someone who drove her the wrong way and then refused to stop the cab when she wanted out. The police side with the driver. The officer with her insists that she has to pay the fare. Jane is upset and crying by this point and then the police officer with her says she has to pay the fare or he'll charge her with assault of a police officer.

She has not touched him in any way.

Now Jane is stunned but is insistant that she's not done anything wrong and she shouldn't have to pay for a service that wasn't rendered.

The police arrest her.

She is then taken to the police station, processed, strip searched, and locked in a cell. She's had her shoes taken away and is in a cell alone, no blankets, and she's cold. Throughout this process she's asked for a lawyer and her phone call and has been denied both. She also has asked for a breathalizer test to prove she's not drunk. They also refused to give her one of those. Also note that she's in a cell alone not in the drunk tank.

They leave her in a cell for somewhere between 6-7 hours. She asks for juice or even water as she knows her blood sugar is dropping and she's not feeling well. That request is also ignored.

In the morning she is released and given a ticket for public drunkeness, which is about as serious as jaywalking (i.e. not serious at all.)

They then try to make her sign for her belongings without letting her see what she's signing for (everything is in an envelope.) It takes some time to get the officer to empty out the envelope so she can see that everything she owns is there before she signs for it.

When she finally gets in touch with her friends whose house she was at the night before she finds out the cab company called them and demanded that they pay the fare and also have now claimed that Jane has stolen the driver's cellphone and the ID that's on the back of the taxi seat showing who the driver is.

Neither of these items were in her belongings that were at the police station so clearly she did not have them.

My interpretation of that last bit is that this cab driver was not the registered cab driver for that taxi. Often drivers let their friends/family take the cab out for work when they're off. That way they're helping their friends make a living. Hence when the police showed up the driver in question may have felt safer getting rid of the sign and his phone (or even just hiding them somewhere) because the photo on the license may not have matched his face.

That's my personal interpretation of those last events there's been no further explanation as to what happened there. Whatever the reason was for those things being gone though it's clear that Jane didn't have either of them on her person because the police would have found them.

This all happened in Toronto. Generally we're considered to be a safe city, we don't think that incidents like this are happening here. The sad thing is that as I've told people I've been hearing that this sort of thing is not uncommon and if you're in danger the police aren't always your best source of help. It's just that once things like this happen the victems are left shaken and scared of what may happen to them if they do come forward with this information. The police also have a great union and great lawyers of their own and thus can get away with acts like this without reprecussions.

Safety tips: The main thing that Jane didn't think to do was call 911. Remember that 911 records incoming calls. So if anyone ever ends up in a situation like this call 911 right away. Don't assume you're safe, don't assume the cab driver just doesn't know where he's going, obviously things aren't as safe as we like to believe and at the very least if you've called 911 you'll have a record of your side of events.

Date: 2010-03-10 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damedini.livejournal.com
Taxis now have cameras - all of this should be on record and provable.

Date: 2010-03-11 03:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizalavelle.livejournal.com
I'll pass that on, odds are good if it was a cab that shouldn't have been on duty or the driver was trying to get extra cash and was refusing to stop that tape will be "lost." I can't see someone coming up with evidence that gets them in trouble.

Date: 2010-03-11 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gonnashine.livejournal.com
Wow...what a story! I don't blame "Jane" for wanting the cab to stop and not wanting to pay the fare after how she was treated! I take a taxi home from work a few times a week and lately I've been very unhappy with the drivers and the service I've received. Taking too long to pick me up, taking the "long way" to up the fare, screwing up the meter before I pay... it goes on and on! Now its rare that I'm actually happy after taking a cab. grr

Date: 2010-03-11 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizalavelle.livejournal.com
I've always been raised to be clear with drivers that I'm not a tourist and that I know where I'm going and to point out if we're going the wrong way/the long way. I'm sticking with transit over cabs unless I'm with other people from here on out though because this scares me a lot. The fact that he called her a whore and wouldn't stop the cab makes me think that this is a situation that could have gone very badly had he not stopped for the red light.

Date: 2010-03-11 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gonnashine.livejournal.com
If the driver doesn't ask, I'm usually very clear which way I want them to go (avoiding lights, etc), but if I'm tired after work I sometimes forget and thats when they take the route which has all the long, red lights. Once in a blue moon the driver will have half a brain and do all they can to charge me as little as possible....but thats rare, and NEVER at night.

After reading this story, I'll be a little more wary. It is frightening.

Date: 2010-03-11 11:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizalavelle.livejournal.com
It's not that they don't have a brain when they go the wrong way, that's the smart way for them because they get more money from you ;)

Date: 2010-03-11 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] giantlovetingle.livejournal.com
I feel so sorry for her and what she's gone through. Even though you say it's a truthful event, the whole thing just sounds so ridiculous - I really hope she can somehow prove her side of the story.

Date: 2010-03-11 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizalavelle.livejournal.com
I think this is the reason that some police officers can get away with things like this. When it's taken to an extreme so that it looks as though it might not be true the victim isn't believed.

I did talk with someone who used to work closely with the police department about this and was told that I'd be surprised at how often incidents like this happen and are swept under the carpet. Scary stuff.

Date: 2010-03-11 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fireaspark.livejournal.com
That is a horrible, horrible thing for anyone to have to go through. I can't even imagine. Thank you for sharing this.

Date: 2010-03-12 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizalavelle.livejournal.com
Thanks for reading, it definitely opened my eyes and made me more cautious about things and I wanted my friends to have the extra safety tips too. :)

Date: 2010-03-13 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avathebrat.livejournal.com
I've always felt safer taking mass transit than a cab, especially if I'm alone. The movie "The Bone Collector" freaked me out on cabs. With mass transit, there are almost always several other people on the platform/train with you, even late at night. Also a conductor on the train, usually at least one transit employee in the station, and often police in the stations. Obviously in this story the police were not helpful and part of the problem, but I feel like with multiple witnesses, stuff like that is less likely to happen.

Date: 2010-03-14 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elizalavelle.livejournal.com
I like the idea of witnesses. My mind went straight to the Bone Collector the as soon as I heard the cab wouldn't stop when she asked to get out. That's scary stuff. I'd far rather take a little longer to get home and be sure that I get home.

I think that had there been other people around the police here would have never got as out of control with their power trip as they did here.

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Elizabeth Jamieson

January 2013

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