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Taxi driver says boy didn't pay; family says he was never in the cab

Posted at 8:53 PM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-03 01:13:25-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — “We’re offering it to you again. Please review the video so that all charges can be dropped and dismissed.”

Those were the words of Attorney Joe North.

He, along with Attorney Cedric Hall, represent 14-year-old Levaris Johnson.

He’s accused of hiring a Bluebird taxi, and not paying the $55 fare.

On Friday, a press conference was held at the North Law Firm in Fort Myers.

A Lee County Sheriff’s Office report says just after 11PM on July 26th, they responded to a call from a Bluebird Taxi driver.

That driver says he drove from a Cape Coral 7-11 to Lehigh Acres. He says once they arrived at their destination, the suspect exited the vehicle without paying and ran away.

The report says a K-9 unit responded and tracked a scent that led directly to the front door of Levaris’ home. That house is located on the next street over from where the suspect fled.

The cab driver told deputies the suspect was a black male, approximately 16 to 19 years old. He said he was wearing a black t-shirt and cut up blue jeans.

Two black males were presented, but the driver did not identify either one as the suspect.

He did, however, identify Levaris Johnson as the missing passenger.

“Levaris is 14. And he’s a small 14,” North said.

LCSO says Johnson was not wearing clothes that matched the suspect’s description.

Attorneys for the soon-to-be freshman at Riverdale High School say the boy offered to be fingerprinted. They say he also asked them to review surveillance video from his home.

“He told them that he could look at his mom’s surveillance video that they have inside the home and outside the home to prove that he was home the entire time,” North said.

His family and attorneys exclusively providing FOX 4 with screenshots of the home surveillance video. They say they’re proof that Levaris was home. It shows him playing a video game -Fort Nite- between the hours of 10 and 11 p.m, and not in a cab leaving Cape Coral bound for Lehigh Acres.

BlueBird Taxi tells FOX 4 in a statement that the call for the taxi ride came in at 10 p.m., and they verified that the passenger was 18 before agreeing to the ride.

Attorneys for Levaris say someone didn’t pay the taxi fare.

Someone jumped out of the cab, and someone took off from the scene.

But, they say, it was not Levaris.

Instead, they say, it was a “guest of a guest” that visited the home.

We reached out to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

They say arrests are made based off of “probable cause”. Therefore, this was not a wrongful arrest.

But Levaris’ mother and attorney say it was.

His uncle pleaded for the state attorney to drop the charges, saying this could ruin the boy’s freshman year which starts next Monday.

“He’s going to high school and his face is blasted all over the news,” Corey Hampton says.

Levaris’ attorneys say they’re seeking civil action against Bluebird Taxi and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. They are also taking criminal action. They say their biggest concern is how this will affect the boy’s mental health.

The state attorney’s office says the case is under review.