ABC7 Exclusive: Interview with man convicted of killing cab driver
May 1, 2007 (WLS) -- He was convicted of running over a Chicago cab driver, but Michael Jackson says it was self-defense. Jackson has never publicly said he was sorry or given an interview -- until now.
The 39-year-old Jackson had claimed self-defense at his trial and believed that significant facts of the case were unfairly left out. Jackson will appeal the second-degree charge and said he believed there are facts about the case that were unfairly left out.
"I'm a victim of a failed system," Jackson said.
On February 4, 2005, Haroon Paryani drove Jackson to his Lakeview apartment and the two men had a heated argument over the $8 fare.
"He was irate," Jackson said of Paryani. "He kept screaming."
Jackson said his first mistake was telling the 62-year-old Paryani that he worked for the city as spokesman for the STD/HIV-AIDS division and would report him.
"I remember him turning and looking back at me and telling me that I wasn't going to tell anybody because he was going to f---g kill me," Jackson said.
As he testified in court, Jackson said the fight grew violent with Paryani slamming the cab door into him. Jackson admitted he was intoxicated but said he felt that he was fighting for his life. Jackson said he hopped into the driver's side of the cab and took control of the steering wheel.
"I think I hit a car, I still believe I hit a car," Jackson recalled. "I back up, straightened the car up and went forward. That's how they got three times."
Jackson said he still believes he did not know he hit Paryani until he went to a friend's house and saw the story on the news.
With credit for good behavior, Jackson could be released from Taylorville Correctional Center in Springfield by the end of 2010, but he said he has pinned all his hopes on an appeal.
Much of Jackson's appeal is based on evidence that was not heard until recently about Paryani's background.
The late Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko wrote that a $6 million lawsuit was filed against Paryani by a woman who said he beat her during an argument over cab fare in 1989. A jury found Paryani guilty and he was ordered to pay the woman.
But the jurors in Jackson's case never heard about it. Nor did the jurors hear about the city fining Paryani in 2001 and suspending him for 17 days for discourtesy, abusive behavior and unsafe driving. The judge in Jackson's case did not deem the cases brought on by Paryani to be relevant.
"I think that would have made a huge difference for people to hear that," Jackson said.
Jackson said his record of charity -- creating the Hearts Foundation to raise money for the Gay and Lesbian community -- was also suppressed. Jackson said that with his work and background he felt that probation would have been the appropriate sentence.
"At least he could have said I'm sorry, but he didn't," Paryani's daughter Keeran said in 2006. "That just shows what a horrific person he is."
While speaking to ABC7, Jackson did apologize but without taking responsibility.
"I apologize that he's passed away. I apologize that the man decided to attack me," Jackson said. "I can't imagine what it's like to lose a father. For that, I'm very sorry for their loss."
ABC7 made several requests to the prosecutor and the Paryani family for interviews. However, the family members said they would only talk if the prosecutor approved it. The prosecutor declined the interview as she stated they do not want anything to jeopardize the pending appeal.
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