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Monday, February 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Cab Company Sued After Two Shootings

WEST PALM BEACH (CN) - A Florida man sued the taxi company whose driver is accused of shooting him and another bicyclist in separate incidents.

Jonathan Overstreet sued Southeastern Florida Transportation Group in Palm Beach County Court.

He claims the cab company "knew or should have known" that its driver Rupert Harty "was unfit and potentially dangerous."

Overstreet claims a proper screening would have revealed that Harty was mentally unstable.

Harty was working for the cab company when he shot Overstreet on Feb. 1, 2013, Overstreet claims.

According to a police report , Overstreet told investigators that Harty shot him after Overstreet yelled out at the cabbie for nearly running him over as he rode his bicycle.

The incident happened in mid-afternoon, and Overstreet lay riddled with bullets near a West Palm Beach intersection until paramedics picked him up.

Overstreet says in the lawsuit that the shooting left him with "permanent total disability." He seeks damages for negligent hiring and retention and loss of consortium for his four children, who were 2 to 18 when Overstreet was shot.

Harty, who is not named as a defendant, was arrested six days after Overstreet was shot. He was charged with the Overstreet shooting and with killing another bicyclist, 41-year-old Amaria Grant.

A police report states that Harty confessed to Grant's murder during a police interview, claiming he had "heard a voice tell him to go kill someone."

According to the report, Harty said he parked his cab on a side street near the Intracoastal Waterway, walked up to Grant while she was riding her bike, and shot her in the head with a 9mm handgun.

The Grant shooting and the Overstreet shooting were consolidated into one criminal case, which has not moved forward due to questions regarding Harty's competency. In March 2013, the court adjudged Harty to be mentally unfit to face the murder charges. Harty was placed in a psychiatric ward pending further evaluation.

A judge decided last fall that Harty should remain involuntarily committed until the next status hearing, which is scheduled for September.

Notwithstanding the competency issue, State Attorney David Aronberg's office filed notice that it intends to seek the death penalty for Harty.

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