A coward who callously hailed a yellow cab as his close friend died in his burning car was sentenced Wednesday to four to 12 years in prison — but the victim’s family thinks he got off easy.
Saeed Ahmad’s cruel betrayal was caught on cell phone video Oct. 13, 2017.
The stunning video shows that as bright orange flames poured out of Ahmad’s luxury Infiniti 35G on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the 24-year-old walked over to a yellow cab, and asked, “Can I get a ride?” getting into the back seat as the hack drove him to a nearby hospital.
Ahmad’s friend, Harleen Grewal, 25, meanwhile, burned to death in the passenger seat. Firefighters extinguishing the blaze found her charred body.
“He had all the intentions to hurt one or more people on that day when he sat behind the wheel without a driver’s license [his license was suspended at he time], drunk, speeding and killing our daughter,” Grewal’s mother, Raejinder Singh, said through tears.
“Adding insult to her burning alive, he turned his back, took a cab casually with the intent that she burns to ashes and no one will know who was there.”
Saeed was unlicensed, drunk and driving recklessly when he slammed into the median near the Prospect Expressway about 4 a.m., prosecutors charged.
“He took cover to hide himself like a coward, selfish. Only he was important in that moment. He knew Harleen is there,” Grewal’s mom said. “He did not tell anyone or call 911. Why?”
He pleaded guilty Nov. 27 to manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal crash.
A grand jury indicted him on murder charges, but Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Guidice later ruled he could only be charged with manslaughter, sparing Ahmad a possible life sentence.
“Failure to summon aid is not a . . . factor in determining whether a homicide constitutes depraved murder,” Del Guidice wrote in his decision.
Grewal’s mom railed against the decision, and said wants to see the state’s Good Samaritan laws changed.
“If you are not a murderer, you will stay and call for help. Let us have the new norm in our justice system,” Singh said.
“I can understand the family of the deceased wanting a stiffer punishment, but I am constrained by the law,” the judge said. “I would recommend to the family of the deceased, reach out to the legislature, change the law.”
Dozens of Grewal’s friends and family sat stone-faced as Ahmad apologized, saying he hopes one day God and Grewal’s relatives can forgive him.
“To say that I stand here today simply to apologize and show my remorse is an understatement,” he said, telling the judge Grewal was always by his side during the short time they were friends.
“When she needed me the most in her life, I let her down. I let her family down. I let her friends down,” he said. “My actions took away any possibility of her leading a loving prosperous and successful life.”
Ahmad told police after the crash that he was dating Grewal, but friends said he was just a friend who gave her a ride home.
Her boyfriend, Karan Singh Dhillon, described her as a caring, uplifting soul. “She made me a better person. She was an angel. She had an impact on whoever she touched,” he said in a 2017 interview with the Daily News.
Grewal inspired her mother to excel as a nurse, and treated her like a queen, the mom recalled.
“I can never surpass her living, caring and giving. I am still learning from her how to be unconditional,” she said. “She called herself a ‘sherni’ — a lioness.”