New Yorkers have rallied behind an immigrant taxi driver who died on Saturday in what police described as an attack by passengers who had refused to pay their fare.
Kutin Gyimah, a 52-year-old father of four originally from Ghana, was dropping off a group of five near Rockaway Beach in New York City around 6.20am when they attempted to rob him, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).
The former accountant tried to chase them down, only for one of them to knock him to the ground where he cracked his skull and lost consciousness, police said.
He was then found lying in the roadway near a playground with trauma to the back of his head, and was pronounced dead at St John’s Hospital. The NYPD is investigating his death as a homicide.
On Sunday, the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers announced a $15,000 reward for any information leading to the attackers’ arrest, while a GoFundMe page created for Gyimah’s family by his colleague Spyros Drakos had raised more than $50,000 as of Sunday afternoon.
“I need justice for my husband because he doesn’t deserve to die this way,” said Gyimah’s widow Abigail Barwuah at a press conference that morning, reportedly weeping as she spoke.
“He didn’t rest throughout the pandemic – he was working. He was a good, good man. He was my backbone.”
Ms Barwuah appeared alongside the couple’s two older children, aged seven and eight, who also cried, as well as more than a dozen friends, relatives, and other taxi drivers.
Gyimah’s best friend Samuel Ayebi described how he had picked Gyimah up from the airport when he first arrived in the US 18 years ago, before introducing him to the taxi business.
NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell said: “Kutin Gyimah was the victim of a senseless attack in Queens near Beach 54th St. and Arverne Blvd. As his loved ones mourn, Kutin is in the thoughts of the NYPD detectives who are working hard to apprehend those responsible.”
A spokesperson for the city government said: ” This tragedy is not only devastating, but unacceptable…. we extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and coworkers during this painful time and we will work diligently to bring all people responsible to justice.”
According to The New York Post, security footage from a nearby shop shows Gyimah chasing after the group of three men and two women after they scrambled out of his car’s back seat.
The Post reported that Gyimah caught up to them and held one of them down, before being beaten by the other four. He stood up, then was punched by one of the men and fell backwards.
Rev Samuel Arhin, a priest at the Ghana United Methodist Church where Gyimah workshipped, called him “a loving and caring gentleman – hardworking”, telling CBS News: “We’ve really lost a dedicated father.”
On his GoFundMe page, Mr Drakos described how Gyimah had continued doggedly ferrying passengers during the pandemic, saying: “This to me is a hero, like the first responders. If a doctor, a nurse, someone, a family member needed to get somewhere, he was driving the cab, and he never stopped.”