A Roosevelt man who targeted taxi drivers has pleaded guilty to robbing them and to shooting one cabbie and another man, the Nassau County district attorney's office said Thursday.
Ezekiel Pittman, 21, is expected to get 20 years in prison at sentencing June 2 on two counts of first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, first-degree attempted robbery and first-degree attempted assault, prosecutors said.
In August 2013, Pittman robbed the cabdrivers in Hempstead and Roosevelt and shot one of them. The same month, he shot another person, critically injuring him when the bullet lodged near his spine, officials said.
First, a female driver, 42, fought off Pittman in Hempstead, authorities said. But in the next holdup, in Roosevelt, the robber became impatient and used his gun to hit a 66-year-old driver in the eye area before taking off with $200, authorities said.
In another case in Roosevelt, Pittman shot a cabbie in the right side after demanding more money from the driver, who had given him $20, prosecutors said.
In the most serious case, Pittman asked for change and marijuana from a male hanging out with friends in Hempstead, then shot him, prosecutors said. The bullet damaged the victim's lung and kidney and was removed from near his spine, they said.
Pittman's attorney, Karl Seman of Garden City, said his client is not a "cold-blooded" criminal, but someone who has cognitive and learning limitations. As a child, Pittman was a special education student but never got the services he needed, the attorney said.
"Mr. Pittman is unfortunately a young man who has never had the benefits of strong family support and never had the benefits of required mental health intervention as a young child," Seman said. "He is extremely remorseful, and he takes full responsibility for his actions."
Seman said his client was a felon by age 19, having spent 10 months in prison for grand larceny.
"Armed with a gun and determined to rob his victims regardless of the consequences, Mr. Pittman targeted four people unlucky enough to get in his way," said Madeline Singas, Nassau's acting district attorney. "As a result of his actions, all of his victims have been left with emotional scars, and three of his victims with physical scars that may never fully heal. With this guilty plea, we are ensuring that Mr. Pittman will no longer be a violent menace to our communities for some time to come."