Marine accused of choking Okinawa taxi driver, then stealing and crashing his vehicle
By MATTHEW M. BURKE AND AYA ICHIHASHI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2020
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An Okinawa-based Marine was arrested on a robbery charge over the weekend after he allegedly choked a taxi driver and stole and crashed the vehicle.
Lance Cpl. Jamison Michael Bissett, 20, of Camp Hansen, was taken into custody at a local hospital Sunday morning where he had been treated following the crash, an Ishikawa Police Station spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone Monday.
Police allege Bissett took approximately $100 from the taxi driver’s change purse. The driver was not injured in the incident.
“The taxi was totaled by the [crash],” the police spokesman said.
Bissett denies the charge, the spokesman said.
Marine officials did not respond to requests seeking comment Monday.
According to police, Bissett hailed a cab Saturday evening in Chatan and asked to be taken to Camp Hansen. Around 10:10 p.m., about 3 ½ miles south of Yaka Interchange on the Okinawa Expressway, Bissett allegedly reached around from the backseat and began choking the driver, the police spokesman said.
The driver stopped the car in the middle of the road and fled the vehicle to seek help, the spokesman said. Police allege Bissett then stole the taxi and continued north.
He apparently lost control of the vehicle near the Yaka Interchange exit and crashed into the median, the spokesman said. He was found by police in the driver’s seat bleeding from his forehead.
It’s unclear whether Bissett was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, the spokesman said. The airbag was deployed.
Bissett was treated for a minor head injury at a hospital in central Okinawa and arrested at 9:35 a.m. Sunday, the spokesman said.
Police administered a Breathalyzer test at the station, but the results were inconclusive because so much time had passed since the incident, the police spokesman said.
Bissett was still in custody at 10 a.m. Monday, the spokesman said. He said police expected to refer a charge of robbery to the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office sometime that afternoon. Government spokespeople in Japan typically speak to the media on condition of anonymity as a condition of their employment.