Unicity Taxi has told APTN News the driver involved in an incident with a 77-year-old Cree woman has been suspended indefinitely.
Lori Lemky, manager of Unicity Taxi, says the alleged incident doesn’t reflect the expected behaviour of people employed with the company.
“This driver did everything wrong,” she said.
The woman, Illa Garson, told APTN she caught a cab after a night of playing bingo on Nov. 19 at Club Regent Casino. But there was confusion about payment when she got home.
Garson said she left her cab fare with her daughter to bring out when the car pulled up. After a minute of waiting she attempted to leave the cab to get the money herself.
“I said, ‘Wait, I want to get my money,’ and he started moving,” she said. “He didn’t stop when I said stop. He moved about two houses down and I got off there.
“He didn’t stop. He just left me there.”
Once the driver started to drive away, Garson says she jumped out of the vehicle. She landed on the road where she says the driver took off after he couldn’t collect payment.
She says the incident left her with a dislocated shoulder and a fractured collarbone.
Lemky says it’s not uncommon for drivers to feel unsafe in certain situations but this driver did not respond appropriately.
“Completely not acceptable when it puts someone’s safety at risk,” she said. “He could have pulled over to the side to talk to her.
“Nobody should feel scared that they have to flee for their life,” Lemky added.
She said the driver had been working for the company since 2014, with no prior complaints on his file.
But once the Garson family complained she said the driver was put on temporary suspension. A week later he was suspended permanently with no chance of re-employment.
“If there’s a serious situation we won’t hesitate. We’ll take that driver off the road,” she said.
“I hope he learns from this. Realizes money isn’t worth someone’s safety.”
Garson’s son Gary Garson said he hoped to see the driver fired.
“I think he should be off the street and not pick up any more people,” he said. “He might do the same thing that he did with her.”
The Garsons learned about the suspension Tuesday from APTN.
Gary said his mother is happy Unicity took her complaint seriously.
“She just doesn’t want anyone else to go through what she’s gone through,” he said.
The family also hopes to see police charge the driver.
“What came into her mind was the missing Indigenous women and girls here in the city,” Gary said. “She thought she might be one of them if she hadn’t jumped out.”
A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service said it’s still an open investigation and no charges have yet been laid.
A call seeking comment from the Manitoba Taxicab board was not immediately returned.