In a bizarre altercation, a cab driver in Boston allegedly beat up a cyclist who had flagged him down for help following an accident, then drove into him when he tried to prevent him from leaving, authorities said Monday.
Around 6 p.m. Friday, Sam Chandler, 45, was driving his cab on Tremont Street by the Boston Common when he was hailed by a cyclist who had struck a pedestrian after running a red light.
A witness told police that the cyclist, Lucas Brunelle, asked Chandler for help but that Chandler became angry and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Bystanders were able to pull Chandler, who weighs 300 pounds, off Brunelle, who then stood in front of the cab to block Chandler’s way while he called police.
Chandler then got back in his cab and drove into Brunelle, the witness said.
At an arraignment Monday in Boston Municipal Court, Chandler was ordered held on $1,000 bail.
His lawyer, Kim Giampetro, said the situation was “brought upon him” by Brunelle, 43, who lives on Beacon Hill.
“This is a cyclist who had two problems in a short span of time,” she said.
Giampetro said Chandler has no criminal record. He drives part time for Bay State Taxi in Brookline and also works for a parking company. He cares for his elderly mother, his lawyer said.
Chandler asked Judge Thomas Horgan if he could be released on a monitoring bracelet so he could come up with bail money, saying he had no one who could help him. Horgan denied the request.
Brunelle, who is well known in the urban biking community, admitted to police that he hit a woman in the crosswalk at Tremont and Avery streets after running a red light. He stopped to help the woman and then approached the cab for help.
Chandler then “began punching him with his fist, knocking him down to the ground, and continued the assault,” police wrote in a report. Police were flagged down by a crowd of people, who said a blue and white taxi had hit someone and fled the scene.
The woman struck by the cyclist was taken to the hospital with head injuries. She is expected to survive.
Police broadcast the number of Chandler’s taxi, and an officer spotted him a short time later.
After Monday’s hearing, Brunelle told reporters he was angered by the modest bail, saying that $1,000 “is just a joke. I’m disgusted by that.”
Brunelle, who had a black eye and a welt on his forehead, said he and some friends were on a group ride when he hit the woman.
He flagged down the cab driver to see if he could take her to the hospital, but Chandler cursed at him and said “get out of my face.”
Brunelle barked back at him, and Chandler got out of the cab and “attacked me,” Brunelle said.
“First he hits me, then he hits me with the car,” he said.
Brunelle was calling 911 when Chandler drove into him, he said.
“Point blank with his cab,” he said.
“He tried to kill me.”
Brunelle, who is not expected to face criminal charges, called the entire incident “a group ride that went bad.”
Chandler is due back in court Dec. 10.