By Andrew Vanacore, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
on May 07, 2013 at 6:35 PM, updated May 07, 2013 at 6:53 PM
New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Tuesday that new city ordinances requiring video cameras and GPS tracking systems in taxicabs helped detectives find and arrest a cab driver suspected in the rape of a woman last Thursday.
Serpas said police have arrested Sohail Kahn, 40, and plan to book him with second-degree kidnapping and simple rape. He said Kahn has been arrested at least twice before: once in 2011 for getting into a fight with a patron in Jefferson Parish, which resulted in a guilty plea and a fine; and on another occasion the year before in New Jersey, on a charge of attempting to solicit a prostitute.
On May 2, a 20-year-old woman told police that she was taking a cab home at about 3:30 in the morning when her driver pulled over in the 7600 block of Plum Street and raped her.
Serpas said video footage from the camera in Kahn’s cab helped corroborate the woman’s account. Malachi Hull, director of the New Orleans Taxicab and For-Hire Bureau, said newly installed GPS systems helped his agency narrow down which cabs could have been in the area at the time.
Serpas stressed that the case should be seen as an example of “a bad apple,” and said he expects in many instances that the new taxi cameras will actually help police pursue charges against patrons who mistreat drivers.
“Think of it from both sides of the coin,” Serpas said. “In this case, the video confirms the victim’s testimony to us. Imagine on the other side, though, we have a lot of times where people refuse to pay cab drivers, and people treat cab drivers in the worst possible ways you can imagine. Video also helps the police on that side too.”