Cab driver arrested in hit-and-run death of St. Pete man

A United Taxi driver is facing a felony charge after police say he hit and killed a homeless man Friday morning and drove off. The driver, 25-year-old Jimarez Reed, has a violent criminal past and at the time of the crash was wanted on five outstanding warrants.

"It's a tragedy," resident Jamie Barlow said. "They really have to be more careful about who they hire."

It happened Friday morning around 2:30 on 34th Street North near 36th Avenue North in St. Petersburg. According to the arrest warrant, the man crossing the street stumbled and fell in the northbound median shortly before he was hit. The warrant says the defendant's vehicle made no attempt to avoid the victim.

"Thanks to a tip we were able to investigate this to the fullest extent," St. Pete police public information officer Sandra Bentil said. "And locate video of the incident."

Plinnie McNelly, 58, died at the scene. Thanks to a watchful resident, police were able to place the driver under arrest.

"We just strongly encourage anyone that if they see something say something," Bentil said. "And that's exactly what someone did. They gave us a call after they heard that there was a hit-and-run in the area. They didn't see the actual hit-and-run, but the information they gave was instrumental in us making this arrest."

Reed has violent criminal past. According to court records, he was twice charged with battery of a law enforcement officer. He was also charged with resisting an officer with violence.

"I definitely will not be taking a cab," Jamie Barlow said. "Anytime soon."

Barlow says this isn't the first time there's been a crash like this in the area.

"This is a crazy road," Barlow continued. "There's been accidents. There's always an accident."

We tried to ask United Taxi about their screening process for their drivers, but were told by management the state attorney's office has asked them not to discuss the case.