Family of battered cab driver demands justice

Posted: Updated:

The relatives of a Haverstraw cab driver who was brutally beaten over the weekend held a news conference Wednesday, expressing outrage that the man's alleged attackers were released on bail.

Clarkstown police officers asked taxi driver Freddy Rodriguez to drive Michael Poluha and Justin Smith home from the Palisades Mall Saturday night. When the men, who were allegedly intoxicated, got out of the cab, police say they attacked the driver and stole his cell phone.

The suspects were arrested, but soon after they were set free on $10,000 and $15,000 bails.

"This should never have happened," says Fernando Mateo, a spokesman for the State Federation of Taxi Drivers. "It's poor judgment on behalf of this judge, and we want answers from him."

Mateo claims Poluha and Smith are dangerous. An arsenal of guns and ammunition was allegedly recovered from the suspects' vehicles and homes.

"These guys are probably still armed," he says. "We don't know whether they have another arsenal of weapons somewhere else, and we don't know what their intentions are."

Mateo asked Rockland District Attorney Tom Zugibe to issue an order of protection for the Rodriguez family. He also asked to classify the attack on Rodriguez as a possible hate crime.

To see video from the news conference, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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