Man at centre of 2013 racist assault against Calgary cabbie receiving death threats, lawyer says

Article originally appeared in: Calgary Sun

A frame grab from a video, recorded in November 2013, the man berates cabbie Sardar Qayyum in an expletive-laced diatribe, hurling racist insults and comparing him to a bomb-packing terrorist. Courtesy of Global Calgary
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The man caught in a video berating a cabbie with racist slurs has received death threats, his lawyer said Friday.
Since the video of the November, 2013 encounter went public earlier this week, the married father, who hasn’t been named, has suffered a public backlash that’s turned extreme, said his lawyer Greg Dunn.

“My client has received some death threats by way of voice messages left on his home phone, as a result he does have some concerns with respect to the safety of his family,” said Dunn.

“I think he’s going through a myriad of emotions — he’s feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tremendously remorseful and obviously a lot of regret ... his family is struggling, he’s struggling.”

On the video, the taxi fare is heard directing a prolonged diatribe towards Checker Yellow cabbie Sardar Qayyum during a trip from Calgary to Airdrie in which the driver is told to go back to his native Pakistan and branded a bomb-wearing terrorist.

The outburst was sparked during a mostly uneventful ride by a disagreement over an expired taxi chit.
Dunn said Mounties initially, briefly charged his client with assault with a weapon and mischief following the incident but then withdrew them.

Airdrie RCMP have re-started the investigation but no charges have been laid, and Dunn said it’s unlikely he could be convicted under any hate law.

“It doesn’t fall under inciting hate because it’s only a personal conversation,” he said.
But Canada’s hate laws could be an aggravating factor in a conviction under another charge, said Dunn.

“But there’s no evidence of anything,” he said.

Qayyum claims his fare struck him in the chest with a surveillance camera ripped from its taxi cab mooring but no physical assault appears in the video.

Dunn said his client forked over nearly $10,000 to Checker Yellow Cabs for damages and lost business time and at least $900 to Qayyum, 35.

“There was no quid pro quo in that ‘if I offer compensation, the charges go away,’ said Dunn.

“He continued to make payments even after he learned he wasn’t being charged.”

RCMP Insp. Gibson Glavin wouldn’t discuss any of those possible dropped charges and a court records search found none listed.

He said questions over the RCMP’s handling of the case in 2013 is part of a thorough investigation.