Docs: Taxi driver was forced to drive at gunpoint before being fatally shot
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Investigators believe a murdered Indianapolis cab driver had a dispute over money and was forced to drive at gunpoint before being fatally shot last week.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has arrested two suspects in the case and court documents acquired by News 8 outline what led up to the shooting of 55-year-old Abdukadir Filanwaa.
James Riley, 30 and Alysianna Martin, 29, are currently being held in the Marion County Jail and are awaiting formal charges in the case.
‘Do you wanna die?’
Just after 4 a.m. Saturday, police got a call after someone noticed that a cab with the doors open had been parked for a long time in the 400 block of East 11th Street.
Officers arrived to find Filanwaa in the driver’s seat. He had been shot multiple times. The Marion County Coroner’s Office released his name on Monday morning.
IMPD detectives then began working to find who shot Filanwaa.
One nearby resident said he heard “two pops” between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. Investigators also located spent shell casings.
Another detective reached out to Indianapolis Yellow Cab to get video from inside Filanwaa’s vehicle. Court documents state that videos recovered show an argument and the shooting of Filanwaa.
A detective who reviewed the video said one of the videos begins with an argument between Riley and Filanwaa over money. A woman, believed by police to be Martin, was also in the vehicle.
“The male suspect can then be seen pulling a gun and pushing it into Filanwaa’s side and ordering him to drive,” court documents state. “The male suspect continued to order Filanwaa to drive and was giving him directions and telling him when to stop and go.”
Investigators allege that Riley got upset with Filanwaa for not following his directions.
“You think I’m playing, do you wanna die, do you wanna die?” Riley is accused of asking Filanwaa.
The video then includes further discussion over money.
“The suspect and Filanwaa then discuss a prior conversation about twenty dollars. Filanwaa asked for the money, but the suspect did not give it to him,” court documents state.
Filanwaa was also asked about the cab’s camera.
“Toward the end of the drive, the male suspect is demanding that Filanwaa give him the camera. Filanwaa is telling him that he was not sure where it was,” investigators write in court documents.
That video ends and when the next video begins, Filanwaa has apparently been shot and the passengers have gotten out of the vehicle. Video then shows Filanwaa being shot two more times.
Identifying the suspects
Detectives began reviewing video from the city’s camera system to find people who looked like the passengers in the video recovered from the taxi.
A detective found two people matching the description in video from around 2:44 a.m. that morning at Capitol Avenue and Georgia Street downtown. That detective took some screenshots and emailed them out to the rest of IMPD, asking if anyone knew who they were.
An officer with IMPD’s downtown district recognized them and gave the detectives the names of Riley and Martin.
Just after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, an undercover detective spotted Riley and Martin at a bus stop at 18th and Meridian streets. The detective knew the pair was wanted for questioning in Filanwaa’s murder. After Riley and Martin got on an IndyGo bus, the detective followed it until they got off at 9th Street and Capitol Avenue. By then, he was able to radio for uniformed officers to join him. Three officers took them to the IMPD Homicide Office for questioning.
When questioned, detectives claim that both Riley and Martin wavered about where they had been that night. Initially, they each said they had been sleeping at a downtown library. Martin said she didn’t know anything about a shooting until she heard about it on the news. Riley told officers that he hadn’t been in a taxi that night before changing his story, according to court documents.
Investigators say Riley confessed to the killing after being shown video.
“He stated he did not mean to do it and that it was a misunderstanding,” court documents state. Investigators also say that Riley said he shot Filanwaa “out of fear.”
Riley had a 9mm handgun on him when he was detained by police. Investigators say he admitted that was the murder weapon.
Riley and Martin were then arrested on preliminary charges of murder.
Online jail records indicate that Riley has a court appearance on Sept. 22.
‘He was a human being and he was loved and he loved’
Filanwaa was a Muslim and immigrant of Somalia who had been in Indianapolis for around 25 years. His death has shaken up the city’s Muslim community.
“Many Muslim community members, especially head of household, that is what they do. They drive Uber and taxis to provide for their families,” said Ahmed Alamine, Imam and director of the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association.
Filanwaa has a daughter who lives in the United Kingdom.
“We tried to get her to come over; unfortunately, she will miss the funeral, but we wanted to give her the opportunity to see the grave of her father. This makes it even harder on the rest of his family in Somalia,” Alamine said.
Alamine said he has heard some drivers may stop due to safety.
“This person was not just a statistic or should not always be a statistic,” Alamine said. “He is not a hashtag. He was a human being and he was loved and he loved.”