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Denver Residents Watch Cabbie Death

March 30, 1998

DENVER (AP) _ Taxi driver Mostapha Maarouf dutifully sent his tips back to his family half a world away. The 27-year-old planned to join them in July, at his wedding, and he was collecting gifts to bring back to his tiny hometown of Youssofia, Morocco.

That dream died before dawn Sunday when four assailants beat him to the edge of death and then dumped his body in the trunk of his own cab as people watched _ and did nothing _ from the safety of their high-rise apartments.

``Eyewitnesses saw him being beaten and dragged by his feet and thrown in the trunk, but no one called 911,″ Detective Virginia Lopez said. ``It’s disgusting.″

If police had been notified of the man’s location sooner, he might have lived, Lopez said.

The attack may have started with a fight over a parking space in the area two blocks from the University of Denver, a neighborhood of middle- to high-income residences with some student housing.

About 40 of Maarouf’s friends _ fellow taxi drivers and Moroccan immigrants _ gathered in an apartment Sunday night to mourn. Wails were heard coming from the bedroom as one friend telephoned Morocco to inform Maarouf’s brother of the murder.

``People are killed like flies in this country and nobody cares,″ said Halima Kasson, a close friend.

Police were alerted to the attack when one of his friends called from a nearby convenience store and said they were being robbed and beaten by four men.

Officers then searched for Maarouf in the area while neighbors quietly watched from their windows, Lopez said.

``They didn’t tell police the body was in the trunk,″ she said.

Only when police went door-to-door did residents start talking _ nearly an hour later.

By that time, Maarouf had died.

``We’ve received loud-music complaints from that area. People will call the police to complain about loud music, but not to report a murder,″ Lopez said.

One man was arrested late Sunday on first-degree murder charges and police said they were looking for at least three other men.

Apartment building manager John Contreras said Maarouf’s taxi was parked in a suspect’s spot before the attack.

Contreras’ wife said the building’s residents may have been afraid to report the crime because other tenants are involved with gang members.

Maarouf’s death was reminiscent of the 1964 murder of bartender Kitty Genovese in the New York City borough of Queens. Her death became a symbol of urban apathy after 38 neighbors heard her screams and did nothing to help as she was stabbed to death.

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