By Caleb Hutton
BELLINGHAM — A cab ride turned into a robbery early Thursday, Nov. 15, when a passenger swore and screamed at the driver, then took her cell phone as she called 911, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
The driver picked up Matthew Alan Bentley, 26, from a downtown Bellingham bar about 12:30 a.m. Thursday, said Sgt. Larry Flynn. His destination was on Marine Drive.
During the ride, Bentley’s “unruly” behavior unnerved the driver: He was screaming, swearing and threatening her, Flynn said. The woman cut the route short and drove toward a convenience store along Bennett Drive, where people might be at that time of night, and called 911.
Bentley snatched the phone from her, Flynn said. The frightened woman thought he was going to strike her with it. She honked her horn at a passing state trooper, then ran out of the cab. The man ran out too.
The suspect tumbled over a guard rail, into an embankment full of blackberry bushes. He was still holding the cell phone, with the open line still audible at the 911 dispatch center.
Deputies arrested Bentley at gunpoint. He was booked into jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery and third-degree assault. The assault was a felony because the woman was driving a cab at the time.
The phone was recovered from the bushes and returned to the victim.
Bentley has felonies on his court record for theft and possession of more than 40 grams of marijuana.