Graduate student accuses tow truck driver of assault

Brian Close

While most cases filed against Cedar Towing revolve around the towing itself, University graduate student Jihad Haytham has a different complaint. He claims a driver assaulted him earlier this year after he tried to help a couple in need.
But the driver said Haytham started the conflict and that he acted in defense. Cedar Towing management says it does not tolerate any inappropriate behavior, and that they trust their drivers.
Haytham left his friend’s West Bank apartment midnight April 11 when he saw a couple waiting by a tow truck.
“I was wondering why they were watching their car being taken,” he said.
They told him they needed $50 to pay the driver. Since Cedar Towing doesn’t accept personal checks, Haytham decided to take a check written to him and pay the tower.
He said the driver then told him he was interfering with the towing process.
“Until today, I can’t understand what happened. He twisted my arm, pushed me against the side of the truck, and said he was arresting me. I told him `you can’t do that’, but he said `(With) the law in your country, you would be executed.'”
When the building’s security guard finally came out, he told Haytham he was trespassing, and asked him to leave.
The driver at the scene, Thomas, who would not give his last name for safety reasons, gives a different account of the incident.
Thomas said Haytham jumped between his truck and the car he was towing and sat down. When he asked Haytham to move, Haytham pushed him, he said.
“I grabbed him and held him against the truck,” Thomas said. He told Haytham that “This is America. I don’t know what you do in your country, but you just can’t jump into anyone else’s thing and stick your nose in it.”
Cedar Towing owners Tom and Julie Rodrigue said they trust their drivers. Tom Rodrigue added that drivers go through an extensive criminal background check as well as a driving record check.
He also said if a driver damages a car, Cedar will retrain the driver, teaching how to avoid future damage.
Julie Rodrigue said drivers have been spit at, threatened, and in one case, bitten. She added that drivers are told of the stressful nature of the job when they are hired.
But Haytham said he is still angry with his Cedar Towing experience, and wishes he had called police at the time.
“I didn’t even defend myself, because I thought security would come and try to solve this problem,” he said. “I am mad even today, because I acted in the most civil way.”