Supporters of beaten cab driver call for justice

Posted: Updated:

More than 100 cab drivers gathered outside the Rockland County Courthouse Thursday, protesting the release of two suspects in the brutal beating of a taxi driver.

Freddy Rodriguez was allegedly assaulted by Michael Poluha and Justin Smith, of Nanuet, after Clarkstown police officers asked the cab driver to give the intoxicated men a ride home from the Palisades Mall to Normandy Village. When they emerged from the car, police say, Poluha and Smith hit Rodriguez and stole his cell phone.

"I don't want to see this happen to anyone else," says the victim's son Freddy Rodriguez Jr. "My father's a good person, and anybody that's a good person doesn't deserve this. It just shouldn't happen."

Police arrested the suspects and seized an arsenal of guns and ammunition from their vehicles and homes. Poluha and Smith, however, were released on bail, which was set at $10,000 and $15,000.

Rodriguez's family and friends say they are outraged that bail was set so low.

"If they get away with this, then the next cabbie is going to get hurt even more, and we don't want that," says Raphael Ziegler, of the Rockland County Taxi Coalition.

The suspects are facing attempted robbery and assault charges. They are expected back in Clarkstown court in June.

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