Menu 

Charges dropped against Darien banker, cab driver accused of withholding evidence

william bryan jennings morgan stanley

William Bryan Jennings, left, with his lawyer, Gene Riccio, after leaving Stamford Court on Monday. The state decided not to pursue charges against Jennings for assault, larceny and a hate crime.

It all came down to a missing knife. When it was found, the case against the Morgan Stanley banker charged with felony assault and bigotry changed course dramatically.

• Read the more comprehensive version of Jennings’ exoneration that appeared in print here

Stamford Superior Court dropped all charges against William Bryan Jennings, who, after a cab ride from Manhattan to Darien went awry over a fare argument, stabbed the cab driver’s hand before fleeing into the dark December night. Police never knew who he was until Jennings came forward two weeks after the incident.

Since that time, competing facts have hovered over the case, and media reports from around the world have weighed in on what some press outlets have billed as a rich, white Wall Street banker versus a poor, Muslim cab driver.

There was no fanfare when Jennings entered the packed courtroom on Monday, Oct. 15. He grabbed his seat on the pew as his lawyer, Gene Riccio, walked to the front of courtroom and whispered something to Steven Weiss, the prosecuting attorney representing the state.

Riccio then joined his client, who sat impeccably still amid others waiting for their own trials — many of whom likely had no idea who he was. Some certainly knew.

It was the first case on the docket. Jennings and Riccio stood at attention while Judge Kenneth Povodator listened to Weiss address the court. Jennings had previously waived his right to a jury trial, “to expedite the adjudication of the case,” Riccio said earlier.

Three days prior to the trial, media reports flooded the Internet claiming the prosecution was not going to pursue the charges. No official comment from the prosecution’s office was made, but the speculation rose from the cab driver’s lawyer, Hassan Ahmad, who circulated a press release on Friday claiming the charges would be dropped.

Ahmad said his client, Mohammed Ammar, was “outraged” by the decision and “continues to demand justice.”

“He was anxiously awaiting trial this month and had no indication that the Prosecutor would take such a drastic turn nearly a year after this crime was committed and within days of the trial,” Ahmad said in a statement. “Not only do we feel that it represents a miscarriage of justice for our client, but the timing of this decision makes it that much more disappointing and alarming.”

But Ahmad’s riling technique did not change the prosecution’s mind, despite public outcry against the decision to drop the charges. And here’s why, according to the state’s attorney.

Weiss told the court that Darien Police had initially asked his office whether they should pursue charges against Ammar and Jennings, as Ammar admitted to having taken Jennings from his home, which constituted unlawful restraint, Weiss said. The police were told to only charge Jennings.

“What has happened since then changes everything dramatically,” Weiss told the court.

As Ammar drove into Jennings’ Knollwood Lane home, the two men began bickering over the fare. Ammar, unable to get cell phone reception, left the scene with the door open and Jennings still inside to find police to settle the dispute. Jennings, fearing he was being abducted, according to his testimony, drew a knife, cutting Ammar’s hand. Ammar stopped, and Jennings bolted through the park to his home.

Police arrived and took Ammar’s statement. He couldn’t recall where Jennings lived, so police had little to go on. He later got six stitches to treat the cut on his right hand. The knife, however, was never recovered. That’s because it was with Ammar the entire time, according to Weiss.

“He didn’t tell anybody he had the knife,” Weiss said. “We didn’t learn until May he had held evidence for five months… His explanation for why he did this was no better than Mr. Jennings’” reason for not coming to police soon after the incident happened.

Darien Police Capt. Fred Komm told The Darien Times that police “had insufficient grounds to search Ammar [for the knife] when the crime was reported as he was the alleged victim of the assault.”

“The knife belonged to Jennings and not to Ammar,” Komm said. “The cab was thoroughly searched by officers, but the knife could not be located. Ammar was asked about the knife, and he claimed that he did not know what happened to it.”

“It was also plausible that Jennings may have discarded the knife or taken it with him,” Komm continued. “Since he did not immediately report the incident there was no way of us knowing for certain as to what transpired with the knife as we could not interview him.”

Weiss added that if police asked him now whether to charge both men, he said he would.

“We believe there is no public interest in pursuing charges against Mr. Jennings… or Mr. Ammar,” Weiss said.

Riccio briefly said that the charges should be dropped, and Rubin didn’t argue.

“I’m not going to try the case,” Weiss said. “I have nothing to say.”

Jennings did not display any visible emotion when it was learned he was no longer on trial.

Ahmad could not be reached for further comment. He earlier said his law firm has been in constant communication with the prosecutor’s office since Jennings’ arrest and was never given any indication that the prosecutor was considering dismissing the charges.

A slew of reporters left the courtroom as Jennings departed, his face equally sullen as it was when he entered. After a brief consult with Riccio, Jennings spoke to the press.

“I don’t have a lot to say,” Jennings began. “The outcome of the case speaks for itself.”

Jennings also said he had “a long list of friends and family” that got him through the ordeal. “I want to thank them,” he said.

Riccio lamented the press’s fast judgment of Jennings.

“It’s unfortunate when someone of prominence is arrested and the public and press jump to conclusions,” he said, adding that the next time an accused person faces trial, “maybe judgment will be held” until all facts are in.

When asked if he was still living in Darien and if he still works at Morgan Stanley, Jennings declined to comment. Riccio declined to comment if he would pursue civil charges against the police or Ammar.

Original Report:

UPDATE Monday 10:38 — All charges were dropped against William Bryan Jennings of Knollwood Lane Monday morning in Stamford.

On Friday, The Darien Times reported that the charges of assault, larceny and bigotry after a ride from Manhattan to Darien went awry in December of 2011 could possibly be dropped.

At the court appointment this morning, it was revealed that cab driver Mohammad Ammar was in possession of the knife he claimed Jennings used to stab him and had not informed police.

Police said charges could have been pressed against Ammar for unlawful restraint and withholding evidence, but in the end, the courts said it was not in the public interest to press charges against either party in the incident.

Last week, Hassan Ahmad, attorney for the cab driver, Mohammad Ammar, said his client was “outraged” by the decision and “continues to demand justice” when he learned the state might opt not to press charges. Though other news outlets were reporting that the charges had already been dropped last week, which was incorrect, this information was circulated by Ammar’s lawyer, who told The Times that they could have changed their minds until this morning.

In a phone interview, Ahmad admitted that the state could still pursue charges against Jennings, but said that would be unlikely.

“They can always change their mind,” he said.

Check back with darientimes.com for more information on this developing story.

Friday — The lawyer for the cab driver who was stiffed his fare then stabbed by a Morgan Stanley banker said Connecticut prosecutors have decided the state is n

longer willing to press charges against the Darien man accused of the charges.

William Bryan Jennings of Knollwood Lane faces assault, larceny and bigotry charges after a ride from Manhattan to Darien went awry in December of 2011, leaving the driver with a cut hand and an unpaid fare, and leaving Jennings with stories of abduction.

State attorneys have yet to confirm the decision to not press charges. They have not returned a call for confirmation. A trial date has been set for Monday, Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. Jennings’ lawyer, Eugene Riccio, told The Times that as far as he knows, court is on for Monday.

Speaking through his lawyer Hassan Ahmad, the cab driver, Mohammad Ammar, said he is “outraged” by the decision and “continues to demand justice.”

“He was anxiously awaiting trial this month and had no indication that the Prosecutor would take such a drastic turn nearly a year after this crime was committed and within days of the trial,” Ahmad said in a statement.

“Not only do we feel that it represents a miscarriage of justice for our client, but the timing of this decision makes it that much more disappointing and alarming,” Ahmad continued.

Ahmad said his law firm has been in constant communication with the prosecutor’s office since Jennings’ arrest and was never given any indication that the prosecutor was considering dismissing the charges.

“In fact, a week prior to the October 5, meeting, the Prosecutor contacted this office, informing us that the trial would be going forward on October 15, 2012 and that Mr. Ammar would be testifying,” Ahmad said.

In a phone interview, Ahmad admitted that the state could still pursue charges against Jennings, but said that would be unlikely.

“They can always change their mind,” he said.

ddesroches@darientimes.com

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

  • Louise

    Nice to know there are no crazy, knife-wielding Morgan Stanley bankers lurking in Darien. New York cabbies on the other hand – they’re pretty much all crazy!

  • concernedcitizen552

    Agree. Maybe Mr. DesRoches has learned something here as well. He singlehandedly presumed Mr. Jennings guilt and persuaded much of Darien of the same presumption via his biased and inaccurate rushes to judgement. The question everyone should be asking now isn’t why Ammar waited to turn the knife in (although that inaction obviously crushed his credibility). No, the right question is: how in the world did Ammar have the knife in the first place. Sounds like Jennings version (he grabbed it) was accurate. The second question people should be asking is: how in the world did the cops not find the knife in the cab that evening. Answer: because Ammar already had it in his pocket. This cab driver lied about virtually every aspect of this case and his lies to the prosecutor’s finally broke the camel’s back in Jennings’ direction. We all owe Mr. Jennings an enormous apology — especially the jerk writer named David DesRoches.

  • Teri

    Civil Rights attorney Norm Pattis tells me Jennings could have a decent case to sue the town for a false arrest
    http://www.teribuhl.com

  • concernedcitizen552

    Your body of work is better than DesRoches’ work ever was Teri. Not even close. You should attempt to reach Jennings’ lawyers and/or friends to get the full scoop. If you had all the information that is available, you could really blow the story wide open. You’re 80% of the way there now…

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Darien Times, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress