New evidence puts a twist on renegade cabbie reports

ST. LOUIS – Fox 2 News has obtained new evidence in a story about a renegade cab driver.

A newly obtained 911 call sheds new light on what happened between a cabbie and his passenger in October.

In the recording, you can hear Luke Hassler yelling something outside of a cab driven by Mahad Abdi. Abdi was calling 911.

Abdi was able to get a copy of his 911 call now that the criminal case is closed. Prosecutors had charged Hassler in October for property damage and assault.

Now nine months later, according to court records, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney “dismissed” the case “for the reason that the defendant has successfully completed the misdemeanor redirect program.”

The record shows that consisted of $149 Hassler paid for Abdi’s broken cellphone and $500 to an Illinois hospital for treating Abdi that night.

Fox 2 had confronted Abdi over this same incident in February because he wasn’t supposed to be driving a cab in the first place.

The St. Louis Cab Commission called him an unlicensed renegade because of his criminal record.

Faizan Syed with the Missouri Chapter for the Council on American Islamic Relations said Abdi’s history doesn’t mean he can’t also be a victim.

“Some people, they make bad choices in life and the reality is those individuals should not be defined by their bad choices or their criminal history,” Syed said. “Mr. Abdi is a man who made bad choices in the past and he went to jail, he served his time, he paid his dues and now he’s trying to become a better member of society.”

Syed said the 911 call would convince people Abdi was the victim that day but he couldn’t get a copy. Then Fox 2 pressed for it and helped Syed and Abdi with the information they would need to obtain it.

“The 911 call is probably the most important factor in this case,” Syed said. “If it was true that the passenger was the victim, he would’ve called 911 but instead Mr. Abdi called 911 and when you hear the tape you can also hear on the background the muffled, you know, voice of the other man yelling and cursing him out.”

Abdi didn’t want to talk about it anymore but he came with Syed to this interview, along with another man who grew up in the same Ethiopian village.

“He’s a hard-working man right now and that’s all we wanted to get a chance in life, not to destroy our reputation at this moment but to better ourselves,” said Abdulrahman Kassim.

Kassim said his friend feels punished for trying to do the right thing that day and he now feels vindicated by the 911 recording where you can hear what his passenger was like.

“(The passenger) didn’t know where he was going and Mr. Abdi from the beginning was flagged down so he can help him to get home,” Kassim said.

Hassler responded with this statement through his attorney:

“Mr. Hassler maintains that he was attacked by Mr. Abdi. Mr. Hassler did not plead guilty to anything. He did not ‘take responsibility’ for the event. He did not pay court costs or receive probation. He offered to pay Mr. Abdi’s medical and phone repair bill, and the case was dismissed. This was a practical decision in the interest of avoiding further legal bills and court appearances. Mr. Hassler is disappointed in the outcome but has moved on.”

Syed said Abdi is no longer driving a cab illegally. He said he’s confirmed Abdi is now working properly for a medical transportation company, usually delivering equipment.

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