Story highlights

William Jennings pleads not guilty to assault and hate-crime charges

The Morgan Stanley exec is accused of stabbing an NYC taxi driver over cab fare

Jennings says he acted out of self-defense and denies stabbing the driver

CNN —  

A senior manager at Morgan Stanley pleaded not guilty Friday to assault and hate-crime charges in connection with the stabbing of a New York City taxi driver over the cost of a fare.

William Bryan Jennings, a bond-underwriting senior manager at Morgan Stanley, entered the plea in Connecticut Superior Court in Stamford, according to court documents. His next court date is set for April 12.

Jennings is accused of attacking Mohamed Anmar with a 2.5-inch blade, using racial slurs against Anmar, who is of Middle Eastern descent, and failing to pay for services rendered. The racial slurs resulted in a charge of intimidation by bigotry or bias, which is classified as a hate crime, according to court documents.

Police allege that after attending a company holiday party in Manhattan, Jennings hailed a cab about 11 p.m. on December 21 after a car service failed to arrive to take him to his home in Darien, Connecticut, about 40 miles away. He told police he had “been drinking throughout the day, but didn’t feel he was highly intoxicated.”

According to a sworn affidavit, Anmar said he picked up Jennings, whom he described as drunk, and told him he could go to Connecticut for a flat rate of $204.

When the taxi arrived at Jennings’ residence, Anmar said the banker refused to pay the fare, offering him $50, according to the affidavit. Jennings told police Anmar demanded $294 and he offered to pay $160.

After the disagreement, Anmar said he tried to call police from his cell phone, but he couldn’t get mobile service and began driving to look for a patrol car, according to the affidavit.

Both men say that Jennings tried to get out of the cab several times, but Anmar wouldn’t slow down. The cabbie said he was still driving to try to find a police officer when Jennings reached through the opening in the cab’s partition. Holding a penknife, Anmar said, Jennings cursed at him, saying, “I’m going to kill you. You should go back to your country,” according to the affidavit.

Police documents allege that Jennings stabbed at Anmar, cutting his hands as he tried to close the partition. Anmar told authorities he was able to get phone service nearby and called 911.

“I felt like I was going to die that night,” said Anmar, who required stitches in his hand for the injury.

Jennings told police he acted out of self-defense, fearing Anmar would take him back to Manhattan and he might be “dropped in any number of dangerous places.”

According to court documents, Jennings is free on a $9,500 cash bond.

Pen Pendleton, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, verified that Jennings is a senior manager of North American fixed-income capital markets, and is on leave from the company.

Calls to Jennings’ attorney were not returned Friday.

CNN’s Chris Dignam contributed to this report.