Gioia Honors Hero Cabbie For Aiding In Arrest Of Violent Felon
At about 5 a.m. on Friday, September 28, Adil Aboussalham, who drives a yellow cab for a living, was driving up First Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets in Manhattan when he saw a man beating a woman severely.
The assailant hailed Aboussalham's cab in an attempt to get away as his alleged victim, her face bloodied, stood nearby. Aboussalham instead locked the back doors and jumped out of the cab, leaving his passenger temporarily trapped inside. He tried to keep him there and call the police on his cellphone. Fortunately, another cab driver pulled up beside his cab so closely that the passenger could not escape from that side, while Aboussalham manned the other side. "[The passenger] told me to 'go, go, go' but I couldn't go when I saw the girl like that," Aboussalham said. "I said, 'We're going to stay here until the police come.' That girl could be my sister, my mother." He and the other driver, who left the scene and was unidentified at the time of the ceremony, held firm until the police arrived to make the arrest and tend to the woman victim, who was bleeding from the assault.
Police had been looking for the assailant, one Luis Garcia- Ponce, who was wanted for a number of other crimes. Gioia said he was told by police that Garcia- Ponce is being held without bail on seven charges of sexual assault and additional charges of robbery, burglary and criminal possession of stolen property. Garcia- Ponce's extensive criminal record dates back to July of this year.
For his quick thinking and heroic action and playing a key role in apprehending a violent criminal, Aboussalham was presented with an official City Council citation by Gioia.
In making the presentation to Aboussalham, Gioia stated, "[Aboussalham's] quick thinking and bravery have put a wanted man behind bars. He has done us a great service by keeping our streets safe from a dangerous criminal."
Gioia was joined by Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers' Alliance (NYTWA) a 10,300- member union that seeks to improve working conditions for its taxi driver members. Desai presented Aboussalham with a large bouquet of flowers. "We're so proud of Adil," Desai said. "This was an incredible act of courage and heroism. And that just goes to prove that taxi drivers take care of their passengers and fellow New Yorkers. Drivers are everyday heroes and heroines on our streets." The 31-year-old Aboussalham, a member of the NYTWA, has been driving a cab for about five years.
Desai commented that Astoria might be the home of more cab drivers than any other neighborhood in the city. Gioia said that cabbies, many of them immigrants, work long hours at one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Gioia (D), who represents Long Island City, Woodside, Sunnyside and Maspeth, said that he has made it a top priority to keep his district safe and clean, working hard to pass bills that are tough on crime. He has actively supported a proposal to put more digital cameras in New York City Police Department patrol cars, passed legislation to prevent businesses from selling graffiti paraphernalia to minors, and has issued tips to help parents watch out for online predators.