A year ago this Friday, a Morgan Stanley banker named William Bryan Jennings attended a couple holiday parties, drank a few Coors Lights, and around 10:30PM hailed a cab and asked the driver, Helmy Ammar, to take him home to Connecticut. On the way, a hungry WBJ requested they stop at G&G Deli off 10th Avenue, where he bought “a 20 oz. bottle of Aquafina water, a sandwich and some Burger King cheesy fries.” As the cab entered approached Jennings’ hometown of Darien, a dispute reportedly broke out as to what the fare for the ride would be. Ammar claims that they’d agreed on $204 before leaving Manhattan, but once in Connecticut, Jennings said he’d only pay $50. Jennings claims that Ammar jacked the price up to $300 and was unhappy when the banker offered $160. Another matter of he said/he said is whether or not Jennings started shouting racial slurs at Ammar and told him, “I’m going to kill you. You should go back to your country!” (Jennings denies this happened and says that Ammar locked the doors and wouldn’t let him out of the cab.)
The one aspect of the story that is not in dispute is that as tensions flared, WBJ whipped out a pen knife he had in his pocket. For those of you reading from Morgan Stanley, this is where the teachable moments occurs: if you ever find yourself in a situation wherein you’re winding up to stab a cab driver in the hand, stop and ask yourself, “Is this going to look bad in the Post tomorrow morning?” Jennings did not and now this is happening:
William Bryan Jennings, the co-head of North American fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Stanley who is currently on leave, appeared in court today (wearing “a blue suit, white shirt and patterned tie”) to plead not guilty to assault and hate-crime charges. Those charges would be the ones that resulted from an incident in which he took a cab from Manhattan to Connecticut (with a fateful stop for snacks), got into a dispute with the driver over the fare, and “accidentally” stabbed the guy with a pen knife. According to Bloomberg, following the plea, WBJ and his lawyer “drove away in a pickup truck.”
William Bryan Jennings is the co-head of North American fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Stanley, though his responsibilities have been passed onto a coworker for the time being until a particular matter is “resolved.” That matter would be a cab ride he took on the evening of December 22, which resulted in Jennings being charged with “second-degree assault, theft of services and second-degree intimidation based on race or bigotry.” At present, there are two conflicting stories about what happened.
According to the cabbie, Jennings was driven from Manhattan to his home in Darien, CT, at which point he refused to pay the $200 cab fare and instead began “threatening the driver and using racial slurs,” before intentionally stabbing the guy’s hand with a “pen knife” that he “uses for fishing.” According to Jennings’ lawyer, upon arriving at in Connecticut, WBJ, who colleagues have described as the “nicest guy you’ll meet,” was appalled to learn of the “exorbitant amount” the driver was charging (which WBJ claims had been upped to $300). After refusing to pay, the driver supposedly told Jennings he was “going to take him back to the city,” at which point Jennings pulled out the pen knife he had on him and “demanded to be let out of the car because he was fearful for his safety,” cutting the driver who WBJ “did not intend to hurt” after he put his hand through the dividing window. Jennings’ lawyer has 1) denied the racial slurs and 2) said it’s “mind-boggling” that his client was charged and not the other way around (though, according to reports, the driver called the police at 12:30am to report the incident, and Jennings never did).
As none of us were there at the time, we should refrain from speculating as to which half of the he said/he said is telling the truth. Though clearly there are a couple of important takeaways here, including but not limited to the fact that if one is going to snub the Metro North, one should expect to pay, figuratively but more so literally. Manhattan to Connecticut? I’ve had rides from the UWS to Midtown East cost upwards of $40. Let’s not do this dance.