NC Taxi Driver Accused of Anti-Gay Taunt & Hitting Gay Man
A taxi driver from Raleigh, N.C., has been accused of attempting to hit a gay man with his cab and using anti-gay epithets towards a group of customers after a dispute occurred on early Sunday morning, QNotes, an LGBT publication based in Charlotte, N.C., reports.
The former executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, Bobby Hilburn, said that a driver from Green Taxi service called him and five friends "faggots" before trying to run him down with the taxi.
Hilburn alleges the incident occurred after midnight on Sunday when he called Green Taxi for a ride to a gay club in downtown Raleigh. The taxi arrived earlier than expected so, Hilburn and his friends rushed to get into the vehicle. While waiting for two friends, the unnamed driver allegedly became agitated and Hilburn said the driver said, "I'm not gonna wait on you faggots."
Hilburn said he and his friends were shocked and promptly exited the taxi. The driver then allegedly sped off with the passenger door still open but turned around and yelled at the group for damaging his car. Although Hilburn's friends left the scene, he decided to stay and take pictures of the taxi.
"I told my friends I wanted to go get his car number and information," Hilburn said. "So I walked down and as I was snapping his picture, he threw his car into reverse, turned toward me, and sped back into the parking lot. I jumped out of the way and actually had to jump and push off the hood as he was coming toward me."
One of his friends called the police. They told Hilburn he could file a complaint with the magistrate but the taxi driver allegedly told them one of Hilburn's friends hit him.
"When the police arrived, he had then changed his story, saying that he had been attacked and hit in the face by one of my friends," Hilburn said. "We were advised that we can press charges but that if we did, they would probably have to arrest our friend at the same time because he would say one thing to our other."
He denies that he or his friends physically or verbally assaulted the driver. When a friend called the taxi service, a dispatcher told them they would have to call back on Monday to speak to management.
Hilburn told QNotes that he and his friends are unsure if they will press charges but they will talk to Green Taxi about the incident. He added that he doesn't want the driver to be fired.
"I really want the gentleman to understand that it's not okay to make statements like that that are derogatory and hurtful to people," Hilburn said. "They are supposed to be providing a service to everybody in the public and its kind of scary to think you have drivers or people out there that are still so hateful toward anybody, not necessarily just gay people."
A witness, who did not want her name published, told QNotes a different story. She claims she saw seven individuals harassing the driver and swear at him. She added the driver was trying to tell the group that he could not fit everyone in his cab.
Hilburn sticks to his story and insists the driver never existed his cab. "I can understand how an outsider could have felt [a confrontation was occurring], but please be clear I have no reason to lie. I am a well-upstanding person in our community," he said. "I think it's interesting that people don't want to give their name. It think that should immediately discredit their story."
Green Taxi owner Harry Jeanniton told the publication that the anti-gay slur was "unacceptable" and that he is "very sorry for the inconvenience." Initially, he was going to fire the driver but he will now be considering the witness' story.