Family sues NYPD over cab driver's heart attack death

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The family of a yellow cab driver who died from a heart attack while changing a tire has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, claiming police failed to identify the victim and therefore delayed their right to perform time-sensitive Muslim traditions.

Magdi Abouzaid, who was born in Egypt and lived in Bayonne, New Jersey, died by the side of the road in 2017.

A passerby found him and called police.

The lawsuit alleges that despite his hack license displayed prominently in his cab with his name and hack number, access to the medallion information through the Taxi and Limousine Commission, DMV license number, and his name on the taxi's insurance credentials, Abouzaid was marked as an unidentified person for two days before the family was notified.

According to the lawsuit, even when Abouzaid's family went to the police precinct to file a Missing Person report, they were still not told of his death.

New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai released the following statement:

"We thank the Abouzaid family for their courage as we continue the fight for dignity and justice, together. The NYPD's negligence in leaving Magdi Abouzaid's body unidentified is part of a pattern of disregard for the lives of New York City taxi drivers, most of whom are immigrants of color. Unfortunately, we see this kind of callousness toward taxi drivers all of the time. We don't think that the NYPD would have failed to check the many forms of identification easily visible in Magdi's vehicle if he were a rich white man driving a Porsche instead of a working class taxi driver dressed in traditional Muslim garb. We absolutely believe that racism, classism and Islamophobia contributed to unnecessary horrors that Magdi's family faced searching desperately for their loved one as his body remained unidentified in the morgue. Every day loved ones say goodbye to taxi drivers not knowing whether it will be their last. Drivers face the highest rate of murder of any profession in the United States and also risk traffic accidents and assaults on the job. Stress levels for drivers have skyrocketed as incomes have plummeted in recent years, leading to a worsening health crisis among drivers. All the worry drivers' families face shouldn't be compounded by not knowing whether the city will notify them should they lose their loved one."

The NYPD has not commented on the case.

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