DOWNTOWN — Matt Lemenes says he was in a crosswalk when a turning cab clipped him at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Lake Street, so he chased after the cabbie through heavy traffic to ask for an apology.
But the company that owns the cab says its driver didn't hit Lemenes, and accused Lemenes of escalating the situation to a potentially dangerous level.
Who is right? Both pointed to videos mounted to two separate vehicles that captured the incident and that each says supports a different version of what happened. Both videos were posted to the Reddit Chicago website, where a debate raged over what went down.
As Lemenes, 22, is crossing the street and in the crosswalk, the cab turns immediately behind him and a group of pedestrians, and Lemenes kicks out his leg toward the cab. Lemenes, a Columbia College student, says he was "nudge[d]" and his pant leg was stained with salt from the cab's exterior following the incident.
The video then shows Lemenes running down the middle of Michigan Avenue after the cab, which sped away.
But it's hard to tell conclusively what happened. Even the person who filmed and posted the original video later said in a comment on Reddit that "I have no idea what happened. Neither do any of you. Give this guy a break."
As of Thursday night the video had nearly 16,000 views.
But on Thursday morning, a video from the dash camera of the cab, an affiliate of Yellow Cab, was posted on YouTube and later Reddit. That video is labeled the "true version" and had about 1,500 views as of Thursday night.
Larry Ionescu, owner of the cab company, said in an interview that the new video shows the cab driver never hit Lemenes and didn't know he was being chased by "a crazy guy."
"He had no idea this was happening. It's unbelievable," Ionescu said. "He basically could've been assaulted right there. He had no idea he was basically being followed."
In an interview Thursday at the intersection where the incident happened, Lemenes acknowledged he wasn't hurt in the incident. He said he had no intention of attacking the driver, but he did plan on demanding an apology — an apology he's still waiting for.
"My intention was to talk to him and tell him that you can't just barge through intersections like that," he said. "They need to be held accountable."
According to Lemenes, the cab driver's rush to make a left turn through the yellow, and subsequently red light, reflects a daily problem with cabbies in the city driving dangerously.
Though he declined to release the driver's identity, Ionescu said the cabbie has been an employee at his company for about four years and is "very nice, very clean and neat." Ionescu asserted that the problem is that cab drivers are unfairly targeted, he added.
"You have to do the rebuttal because its totally unfair. Drivers are assaulted every other week and I have countless recordings of hit-and-runs," Ionescu said. "What would have happened if the driver wasn't able to turn left" before Lemenes caught up to him?
"We'll let the video speak for itself."