Widow of murdered taxi driver suing to get his license back

DES MOINES -- There's an empty car port outside the home in Des Moines. Its beige tarp doors, rolled up; its roof, shading nothing but pavement the color of a dark thunderstorm raincloud.

Baljinder Kaur would like nothing more to see the old bright green minivan back in this spot; its doors the color of Gatorade, the inside meticulously cleaned as it used to be.

She can't put it back, though. It is evidence in a murder trial.

"I am waiting for him," she says, remembering the day her husband was killed. "He is coming any minute, but I don't know. After two or three hours, I find out he is no more."

Kaur's husband, Harjit Singh, was gunned down last August - shot five times as he sat behind the wheel of his taxi van in Burien. Charging papers show the gunman, Jaspal Gill, told police he believed Singh had tried to run him over with his taxi. Police also smelled "intoxicants" on the gunman as they interviewed him that night.

The murder left Kaur as a single mom and the sole breadwinner for her three children, ages 15, 18, and 21.

While Kaur awaits the trial of her husband's alleged killer, she's also taken on a new battle: fighting to live out his legacy. She's been training to take over his taxi business, but because the city of Seattle and King County revoked her husband's license, she can't.

"We do feel the family was doubly victimized by this without consideration of the surrounding circumstances of what happened," said Kaur's attorney, John O'Rourke. "(This) is provided for in the city's taxi cab rules."

Kaur is now suing to get the license returned.

Taxi licenses in the city of Seattle aren't easy to come by. The city has 688 regular taxi licenses, in addition to 45 wheelchair accessible ones, said Denise Movius, deputy director for Seattle's Department of Finance and Administrative Services. The latter have extra standards, including a certain amount of experience and a clean driving record, Movius said.

If Singh had a standard taxi license, it would've likely been transferred to his estate, Movius added, but because he had wheelchair-accessible one, it's a different story.

"It's different than a normal taxi license," she said, "which is why the director (denying the family's appeal) had to follow the criteria at the time of the lottery."

A county representative declined to comment on the case, citing pending litigation.

For now, Kaur, who works part-time at a local drug store, is waiting for the legal system to work its way through both cases.

"I have nothing right now," she said. "I have no choice (in bringing) back my husband but I have a choice (in bringing this back)."