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OKINAWA CITY — A 23-year-old Air Force staff sergeant on Wednesday was in Japanese custody for allegedly assaulting a cab driver in Okinawa City, according to a spokesman for the Okinawa prefectural police.

The staff sergeant, whose name was withheld pending charges, entered the rear of an occupied taxi while it was stopped for a red light at about 2:35 a.m. in the Chuo district of Okinawa City, the spokesman said. The police report says the staff sergeant grabbed the driver from behind and punched him in the head.

The 54-year-old driver was uninjured and his female passenger was unharmed, the spokesman said. The servicemember was arrested on the spot by police officers who happened to be near the scene, the police said.

According to the Kadena Air Base Public Affairs Office, the staff sergeant is assigned to the 912th Air Refueling Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. He was scheduled to return to the States on Thursday, police said.

A breath analysis indicated the airman was intoxicated at the time of the alleged incident, but the airman denied the accusation, police said.

In response to the incident, the Kadena Public Affairs Office released a statement expressing regret.

“This incident is obviously not a reflection of the greater professionalism of our airmen,” the statement said. “Base leaders are committed to ensuring appropriate actions are taken against individuals who commit crimes … and Kadena will continue to work closely with the local officials to minimize such incidents.”


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