Testifying in his own defense in a Brownwood courtroom on Monday, Taezer Thompson, co-owner of Taxiville, blamed some of his legal troubles on competing drivers he claims have tried to run him out of business.
It was a claim assistant district attorney Elisha Bird called “preposterous.”
Judge Steve Ellis previously ruled that Thompson had violated his 2017 probation for impersonating a peace officer in Brown County.
At Monday’s punishment hearing, Ellis sentenced Thompson to three years in prison. Ellis set a $10,000 appeal bond, but ordered Thompson taken into custody until he can make the bond.
Thompson and his wife Emily own Taxiville, a business they started in 2017.
In a hearing last month, Ellis ruled that Thompson had violated his probation by unlawfully restraining a woman in September in Stephenville.
Stephenville police arrested Thompson and the district attorney’s office in Brown County filed a motion to adjudicate.
In December’s hearing, a woman testified that she was driving home on Frey Street when she noticed a vehicle parked at the curb with its hazard lights flashing.
A different vehicle — a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by a man identified as Thompson — pulled from an intersecting street, blocking her path and forcing her to stop, the victim testified.
The Tahoe had a “bright white light” on its top and the victim said she initially thought the Tahoe was operated by a sheriff’s deputy. The man the victim identified as Thompson approached her window and asked, “Do you enjoy following people?”
When the victim realized Thompson was not a deputy, she testified that she “shut the door and took off.”
She said her vehicle jumped the curb as she maneuvered around Thompson’s Tahoe.
The victim reportedly drove straight to the Stephenville Police Department and was followed by the Tahoe as well as the vehicle that had been parked with its hazards flashing.
The victim went inside and gave a statement to officers.
OTHER SCARY INCIDENTS
At Monday’s hearing, Rebecca Howell, who previously drove for Lyft in Stephenville, testified that Thompson had harassed her and other Lyft drivers.
She said Thompson yelled and cursed and sometimes tailgated them.
Howell testified about an incident in 2018 when Thompson nearly drove his taxi into hers as she was driving a customer home.
She said she pulled into the customer’s driveway and Thompson blocked her in. When she started backing up toward Thompson’s taxi, he drove away.
Howell said she was so unnerved by the incident that she quit driving for Lyft.
Several Stephenville police officers also testified that they were familiar with Thompson because they had responded to calls involving him.
Stephenville resident David Feltner testified that Thompson showed up at his house at 2 a.m. in August looking for someone named Aubrey.
Feltner said he told Thompson that he was at the wrong address and that there was no one named Aubrey at his house.
Thompson responded with hostility, telling Feltner, “I don’t have time to play games. Get Aubrey out here or I call the police,” Feltner testified.
Thompson, represented by attorney Heath Allen and Russell King, testified that he was on friendly terms with several Lyft drivers, but believed others were trying to run him out of business.
Thompson said there are some who like him and others who do not. Bird asked Thompson on cross-examination if he’d considered that people don’t like him because of how he acts toward them.
Emily Thompson described has husband as an “awesome” father. She said Taxiville will shut down if goes to prison.
In closing arguments on Monday, Bird told the judge that Thompson “is not grasping how wrong his actions are. He has a side of him that responds with escalation.”
As Ellis prepared to announce Thompson’s sentence, he said there were “a lot of chilling similarities” between the 2017 Brown County incident in which Thompson was placed on 10 years probation for impersonating a police officer and the September incident of unlawful restraint.
“It’s troubling to me,” Ellis said.