Surviving suspect in attempted armed taxi robbery faces judge

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The surviving suspect in a violent attack on a taxi driver that ended with the driver shooting the other suspect faced a judge Monday, charged with multiple crimes related to the armed attempted robbery.

Kyle Dawson, 23, was held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing for charges of armed assault with intent to rob and assault & battery with a deadly weapon.

The Bristol County DA’s office says Dawson and Christopher Dunton both attempted to rob a Yellow Cab taxi driver at knifepoint early Friday morning. The DA says the cab driver pulled out a gun and shot and killed Dunton, while Dawson managed to get away.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Digiantomaso said in court Monday that Dawson and Dunton were picked up by the 32-year-old taxi driver on Cottage Street and driven to Bentley Street, where Dawson lives. The men asked the driver if he could break a $50 bill for the cab fare. 

Digiantomaso said the driver told the men he didn’t have change for a $50 bill, but offered to take them to a convenience store to get change. That’s when the men allegedly attacked him.

“Mr. Dunton held the cab driver, reaching from the backseat to the front, held him in a chokehold while this defendant brandished a black tactical knife,” Digiantomaso told the judge. “Held it to the right side of the cab driver, at which time they demanded money and said they would ‘shank him.’”

A police report said the cab driver could not breathe while in the chokehold, as Dawson was pushed the knife against his rib cage.

Digiantomaso said the cabbie managed to break free and escape the taxi, pulling out his firearm from a holster. The DA’s office said he has a valid license to carry.

“The cab driver was able to fire at the individuals in the backseat,” he said. “This defendant fled from the passenger side door. Mr. Dunton was struck a number of times and succumbed to his injuries.”

A spokesperson for the DA said the cab driver’s use of force is being investigated as possible self-defense. He has not been charged with any crime, nor has he been cleared of all wrongdoing.

Police later tracked Dawson down on Frederick Street on Friday. Digiantomaso said Dawson admitted to being in the cab with Dunton. Police also found the handle of a tactical knife on the roof of a home where they believe Dawson visited after fleeing the scene.

After his arraignment Monday, Dawson waved to a number of family members in the gallery as he was escorted back to jail. The family members declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Digiantomaso said Dawson has a lengthy criminal history that dates back to the age of 13, with criminal cases every year thereafter except for when he was in prison. Most recently, court records show he was charged with breaking into a home on June 21, and larceny on May 29. In the larceny case, a police report alleges he scammed a woman out of $20 after claiming he worked for her potential landlord and needed the money to conduct a background check. The landlord said the apartment was not available and Dawson does not work for him.

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