ST. PETERSBURG — The cabdriver who picked up the three men on 31st Street N near Haines Road about 3 a.m. Sunday did not like them smoking in his car. They were drinking, too. So he told them to get out.
Instead, one of the men belted him, Pinellas County deputies said. Then, a sheriff's spokeswoman said, the same passenger jumped out of the cab, ran around the car to the driver's window and smacked the cabbie again.
"People in the area heard the noise and came over and they were able to hold the man until we arrived," sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said Monday.
Deputies arrested Edward R. Polmanteer, 57, and charged him with more than just battery on the cabdriver. As it turned out, Polmanteer, a transient whose tattoos include one of movie monster Freddy Krueger, was a wanted man, classified as a fugitive by the state Department of Corrections.
Polmanteer was supposed to register in Pasco County as a sex offender but did not, deputies said. So he was charged with that felony, as well as with violating probation. The deputies also charged him with giving a false name and failure to appear on a petty theft charge.
Barreda said the cabdriver from Independent Taxi was taken to Columbia Northside Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which were not life-threatening. Meanwhile Polmanteer remained in the Pinellas County Jail late Monday in lieu of $15,000 bail.
Violence against taxi drivers has been on the rise this year. St. Petersburg police have been investigating the deaths of two cab drivers killed in recent months. Most years, an average of 17 cabbies are stuck up in St. Petersburg, but so far this year 16 have been robbed, prompting police to announce in July the formation of a "cab crime watch."