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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A USS Blue Ridge sailor will face trial Thursday at Yokohama District Court for allegedly punching a Yokohama cab driver in the face following an argument about a $15 cab fare.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Paul Booker, 23, denied the charges of bodily injury at his Dec. 28 arraignment.

Booker’s indictment came after a four-month search for the alleged assailant, described as a non-Japanese male, who left the scene before police arrived. Tobe police were led to Booker by investigating accounts given by the 60-year-old taxi driver, witnesses and sailors, the police spokesman said.

The incident occurred at 6:20 a.m. on Sept. 17 on the sidewalk near the Yokohama train station. A citizen called authorities after witnessing an argument between the taxi driver and a non-Japanese male, according to the police report.

The defendant allegedly punched the driver in the face, breaking his nose, which took a month to heal, the police spokesman said.

The report states that the man was among a group of five non-Japanese people who took two cabs from Bay Hall in Shin-Yamashita area to the train station’s east exit. Two among them were sailors from Yokosuka Naval Base, the report said.

Someone in the group paid the 1,780-yen fare after seeing the man and the taxi driver arguing, said a policeman after the incident, adding that the Yokosuka sailors told the police they couldn’t identify the man involved as they had just met him. However, the sailors and Booker turned out to be friends assigned to the same ship, police said Friday.

The Navy cooperated closely with the Japanese police and provided access to sailors and individuals for police to question, but they won’t be involved in the trial, said Commander, Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander in an e-mail Monday.

“Japanese authorities decided to exercise primary jurisdiction, so the case will be tried in a Japanese court under Japanese law,” Nylander said.

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