UPDATE, July 26: David Cirner is scheduled to be arraigned on July 27 in Santa Clara County Superior Court in Palo Alto. He is being charged with misdemeanor battery, vandalism (less than $400), and hit-and-run driving causing property damage, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Police arrested a 52-year-old Palo Alto resident for strong-arm robbery, hate crimes, and hit-and-run after he allegedly assaulted a cab driver following a parking dispute.
The Palo Alto Police department dispatch center received a call of a battery in progress on May 27 at about 6:50 p.m. near the Palo Alto transit center at 95 University Ave. A man who was later identified as David Charles Cirner was sitting in his black 2015 Toyota Camry in the parking lot on Urban Lane just south of University Circle, according to Palo Alto police.
A male in his 40s from India drove up in his vehicle, a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria taxi cab, and stopped in the roadway partially behind the Camry. The taxi driver said he got out of his taxi and asked Cirner, whose car was parked in two parking spots, if he would move his car into one spot or the other so the cab driver could park in one of them.
Cirner allegedly began yelling racial epithets at the man, who returned to his car and got back into the driver's seat. Cirner exited his car, approached the passenger side door of the taxi, and allegedly attempted to punch the taxi driver while continuing to yell racial epithets, the man told police.
When the cabbie took out his cell phone to try to take a picture of Cirner, Cirner allegedly went to the driver's side window of the cab, punched the man once in the jaw, and grabbed his cell phone out of his hand. Cirner then threw the cell phone at him, police said.
The phone struck the cab driver in the head, causing the phone's screen to crack. Cirner returned to his own car and backed it twice into the cab while attempting to reverse out of the parking spot. He then pulled the Camry forward, jumped a curb, and drove away westbound on University Circle, the police press release states.
Two witnesses observed the incident, and one of them called police. One provided a description and license plate of Cirner's car. A patrol officer spotted the Camry going south on Alma Street, made a car stop, and detained Cirner, who was alone in the car, without incident, police said.
The cabbie complained of pain to his jaw but did not require medical attention at the scene. Both cars sustained minor damage as a result of the two collisions, police said.
Cirner was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony robbery (for taking the cell phone by force), two misdemeanor counts of hate crimes (one for the physical assault, the other for damaging personal property), and misdemeanor hit-and-run.
Police are asking that anyone with information about the incident call the Palo Alto Police Department at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to email@example.com or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.