Uber driver fled country to avoid charges in kick to taxi driver who later died
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An Uber driver who kicked a taxi driver in the head — and the cabdriver later died — fled the country as the Cook County state’s attorney’s office was considering charging him and police are now seeking an arrest warrant to have him extradited from China.
The Uber driver, who the Sun-Times is not naming because he hasn’t been formally charged, left the United States for China 12 days after the kick was landed to the head of Anis Tungekar on Memorial Day weekend, authorities learned this week.
Video from a nearby surveillance camera captured footage of the attack.
“It’s baffling that the state’s attorney could watch a video of someone being kicked to death in broad daylight and hear an abundance evidence from witnesses and decide to release the offender and do nothing for months, providing the offender time to escape the United States,” Tungekar’s son, Omar, said Thursday. “It’s their job is to prosecute crimes.”
Detectives are now seeking an arrest warrant from the state’s attorney’s office, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed Thursday.
“We certainly understand the family’s frustration and can only imagine what they’re going through,” Guglielmi said Thursday. “But at the end of the day we have to work collaboratively with prosecutors to build the strongest case possible so he can be held accountable for his crimes.”
An arrest warrant would trigger an extradition request and allow federal authorities to place the man in custody should he try to re-enter the United States.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office didn’t respond to a request seeking comment Thursday.
The Uber driver was arrested immediately after the incident but was released two days later without charge.
A spokeswoman for Foxx told the Sun-Times in November — after Tungekar’s family held a news conference to release the video out of frustration no charges had been filed — that prosecutors had sent the case back to police because additional investigation was needed.
Foxx’s spokeswoman didn’t return messages seeking comment Thursday.
The confrontation between the Uber driver and taxi driver unfolded the afternoon of Sept. 2 in the West Loop, when a minor traffic dispute led Tungekar, 64, to follow the Uber driver, 30, about a block and pull in front of his car near the intersection of Jefferson and Washington streets.
The Uber driver told police that, prior to the kick, Tungekar exited his vehicle and walked up to the window of the Uber driver for several moments to engage in “trash talk,” according to a police report that was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Tungekar then walked around the passenger side of the car and hit the Uber driver’s side-view mirror.
As Tungekar walked back toward his car, the Uber driver exited his vehicle and kicked him in the head. He died two days later.
The Uber driver told police he believed Tungekar was going to passenger side of his car to grab a weapon and that he landed the kick because “he just wanted to stop him,” according to the police report.
“It’s the allegation, I think, of any person who is desperate to find an excuse for using lethal force,” the taxi driver’s son, Omar Tungekar, said, adding that his father didn’t have a weapon, wasn’t a violent person and was the victim of an unprovoked attack.
An Uber spokeswoman told the Sun-Times that the ride-hailing company removed the driver from their app the day of the incident.
Omar Tungekar, 36, said Thursday that the lead police investigator in the case told him this week that police had finished their investigation and the case was in the hands of the state’s attorney’s office.
“This is a nightmare that I don’t thing is going to end,” Omar Tungekar said.