Video released of taxi driver being assaulted by man with padlock

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - A San Francisco taxi driver told KTVU he feels lucky he wasn't seriously hurt after a passenger beat him with a metal padlock.

Ben Valis works for National Veterans Cab Company in San Francisco.

The 11-year taxi driver picked up a passenger at 7th and Townsend in the city's South of Market neighborhood just after midnight Tuesday.

The young man asked to be dropped off at the BART station at 5th and Market.

Valis offered to take him to the Civic Center BART station instead, saving him a few dollars on the fare. The passenger agreed.

As the two approached the station, the passenger suddenly went on the attack, striking Valis several times with a padlock.

"I'm just so lucky he only hit me once or twice," Valis said. "Otherwise, you'd be interviewing me in the hospital right now."

Valis was able to pull the car over.

The passenger jumped out and ran towards the Civic Center BART station. Valis called 911.

"I'm so lucky that he took off running rather than trying to confront me some more," Valis said.

He was checked out by paramedics at the scene and is okay.

Valis believes the man was after the multiple phones on the dashboard.

He described the suspect as a tall, thin, light-skinned man in his early to mid 20s, was last seen wearing a dark-colored T-shirt and blue jeans, and that he mentioned living close to the Fruitvale BART station.

BART police are looking to see if the man pops up in their surveillance footage.

Valis is grateful the incident was caught on the cab's dashcam, putting a face on his attacker.

"I'm hoping that putting the video out there will dissuade people from doing this in the future, because your face is going to be on the news," Valis said. "Hey man, don't try to rob a cab driver."