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Cabbie with history of berating passengers finally loses license for slapping customer


Taxi driver Obiozor Anazonwu has lost his license for slapping a customer. (TLC)

This slap-happy hack has finally been curbed.

Taxi driver Obiozor Anazonwu, who has an extensive history of allegedly berating passengers and ignoring regulations, has lost his license for slapping a customer.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission yanked the hack's license and fined him $2,500 for an outburst last Oct. 30 on 1st Ave. and 75th St.

According to records, Anazonwu racked up 20 taxi license suspensions since 2009, many for clerical issues like ducking routine inspections and a drug test.

But he's also been repeatedly charged and disciplined for anger mismanagement — including jumping out of his cab to threaten passengers.

In the October 2017 incident, Anazonwu verbally harassed and slapped a passenger to keep him from photographing the cabbie's license after the two got in a spat over when to start the meter, an administrative law judge concluded.

The peeved passenger argued that Anazonwu was trying to overcharge him by waiting for a light to turn red just as the ride was set to begin, according to April 16 testimony at an Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

"Don't expect me to pay for (your) waiting … spinning the meter," recalled the passenger, who was not named in public documents.

Anazonwu abruptly put the car in park, got out, and opened the back door, according to the passenger.

"Get out you drug dealer!" he bellowed, according to the rider.

At that point, the passenger — headed to a hospital for a medical procedure — said he tried to take a photo of Anazonwu's license, but the cabbie slapped his arm, knocking a cell phone from his hand.

Anazonwu denied attacking the man, testifying he was just trying get him to leave the cab. The hack also accused the customer of calling him a "n----" who should "go back to Africa."

But administrative law judge Kevin Casey didn't buy the cabbie's tale.

"If the (passenger) had said and done those things, it is unlikely that he would draw attention to himself by filing a complaint, especially where he suffered no substantial harm and hailed another taxicab shortly afterwards," Casey ruled.

He also noted it was "unlikely" Anazonwu "would remain completely in control and not have raised his voice" after such derogatory comments were made.

Still, Casey noted the incident was touched off by the passenger's mistaken accusation that he was being overcharged - and that the slap was "relatively minor."

"But those considerations are outweighed by aggravating factors," Case said. "(The TLC) strictly forbids the use of any force or threatened use of force by licensees, who are held to a higher standard of behavior."

Casey also noted Anazonwu's "extensive disciplinary history," which he called "particularly disturbing" — including a December 2013 dustup in which Anazonwu threatened to punch a passenger in the face as the two squabbled over a fare, records show.

Another confrontation occurred in February 2016, when he stormed out of his taxi and repeatedly yelled at another driver and his family. And in March 2016, he jumped from his cab to scream racially charged remarks at a potential customer who accused him of purposely ducking his hail.

"Prior penalties for similar conduct, where (Anazonwu) angrily confronted others, have not deterred him," Casey ruled. "(Anazonwu) offered no evidence to show that he has taken any steps to address his apparent problems with anger management."