Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Livery Cab Driver During Attempted Robbery

Thursday, June 13, 2019


Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting
Livery Cab Driver During Attempted Robbery

Defendant Caught on Surveillance Video Firing Weapon Inside Vehicle,
Victim, a Father of Four, Was Struck Five Times

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 27-year-old man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a 35-year-old livery cab driver while attempting to rob him.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “A devoted father who worked multiple jobs to provide for his wife and children was senselessly shot and killed in the prime of his life. Fawaz Naji had so much to live for when this defendant inexplicably chose to take it all away from him. With today’s sentencing this defendant has now been brought to justice.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Unique Gray, 27, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser to 25 years to life in prison. The defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on May 9, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 29, 2015, the defendant and another man, Tyrell Gardenhire, flagged down the victim’s cab, at approximately 12:20 a.m., and ordered him to pull over on Decatur Street near Malcolm X Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The defendant fatally shot the victim, Fawaz Naji, 35, inside his cab while attempting to rob him. The victim was struck five times, including in the face, the back, the arm and in his hand.

Surveillance video stills from inside the victim’s cab show the defendant, who was seated in the back seat, firing a revolver from behind the victim. He then fled the scene, leaving his cellphone inside the cab.

The defendant was apprehended in North Carolina on August 29, 2015 and extradited to Brooklyn.

The co-defendant, Gardenhire, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted robbery on March 13, 2019 and was sentenced to nine years in prison and five years’ post-release supervision.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Bernarda Villalona, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Evelina Rene, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.