A Pennsylvania police officer busted a thug who robbed a cab driver right in front of him. Cab driver Ralph Valletta picked up the passenger, Victor Martinez-Herrera, 18, in Wyomissing, PA. on Monday.
Valletta stopped at a red light at the intersection of Buttonwood Street and North 10th Street shortly before 4:30 p.m. Suddenly, Martinez-Herrera produced a pistol and held it to Valletta's head.
"Gimme all yo' money man! Gimme everything you got!" Martinez-Herrera shouted at the terrified cabbie.
The robbery was caught on Valletta's dashboard camera.
As Valletta handed over his money, Deputy Sheriff Terry Ely pulled up behind the cab in his police cruiser.
Martinez-Herrera continued to shake down Valletta inside the cab. "I need yo' money now! We can do this the easy way, or we can make this the hard way," he shouted.
When the light turned green, Valletta didn't lift his foot off the brake.
“He's yelling he wants money, and all I had were 11 dollars in one pocket for change,” Valletta told the Reading Eagle newspaper.
Ely, who had just finished serving civil paperwork on a resident nearby, could hear the commotion coming from the cab.
“It sounded like people talking loud or some kind of an argument coming from inside of the cab," Ely told Readingeagle.com.
“The commotion was still going on, so I made it a point to put on my emergency lights.” he said.
When the flashing lights failed to get the cab occupants' attention, Ely exited his patrol unit and cautiously approached the back of the cab.
Valletta, who saw the officer approaching the vehicle in his rear view mirror, told Martinez-Herrera, "There's a cop behind us."
“It was like a vision of God when I saw those lights,” Valletta said.
“Right when I hit the door, I heard the driver say, ‘Please don't shoot me,' said Ely.
"Let me see your hands… get out," Ely said calmly to a befuddled Martinez-Herrera.
"Get on the ground now," said Ely, as both Martinez-Herrera and Vallarta piled out of the cab.
"You're a lifesaver! Oh, my God!" Vallarta cried as Ely asked Martinez-Herrera if he had a gun on him.
"He had a gun! He had it at my head," said Vallarta.
It turns out Martinez-Herrera's weapon was a pellet gun with an authentic-looking scope.
“Thank God it wasn't a real gun, because I would have been in a really bad situation,” Ely said. “I had no clue what was going on in that car — no idea."