The Martha’s Vineyard cab driver who has been at the center of national attention after a confrontation Sunday with a Republican videographer spoke out through his attorneys Wednesday evening, saying he had meant to shield his young daughter from the camera.
Morgan Reitzas, 36, was driving a Martha’s Vineyard Taxi vehicle for Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who was on the Vineyard this weekend and campaigned in Ocean Park on Sunday. As Ms. Warren was leaving and getting into the cab, Mr. Reitzas got into a verbal back-and-forth with a Republican “tracker” who was recording Ms. Warren’s movements.
Mr. Reitzas is listed as the president of Martha’s Vineyard Transport, which owns Martha’s Vineyard Taxi.
The video was posted online and picked up by numerous media outlets. As of Wednesday evening, the video was viewed more than 120,000 times on YouTube.
“What hasn’t been reported is he had his four-year-old daughter in the cab at the time he went to pick up Ms. Warren, and a person with a camera approach him . . . and my client simply held up his hand, which he was legally entitled to do, because he was worried that the cameraman was going to photograph or record his daughter,” attorney Dan Larkosh said Wednesday evening during a press conference with his partner Linda Jackson in front of their law firm on Meshacket Road, where television cameras and a Channel 7 satellite truck were on hand.
“The inside of his cab is a private space . . . when he held up his hand the person with the camera swiped his hand out of the way, made unwanted contact first, and my client made a similar move to push the camera away, and inadvertently the camera fell to the ground. It wasn’t my client’s intention to knock the camera out of this individual’s hand . . . my client feels that the camera was dropped,” Mr. Larkosh said.
“My client’s here to take responsibility for his share of what happened. Clearly he overreacted,” the attorney continued. “He’s very sorry for creating a distraction in both campaigns, he has lot of respect for Senator Brown, he has a lot of respect for Elizabeth Warren. This matter has been blown out of proportion, it is a distraction. My client is a hardworking man, he supports a family, he just wants to get back to work and put this matter to rest.
“I know that Senator Brown would never knowingly subject my client to this kind of distress,” he said.
On Monday, a press release from the executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party called Mr. Reitzas a campaign aide to Ms. Warren, and called for the candidate to address the situation.
In a statement, Ms. Warren’s campaign said the incident involved a taxi driver, and that the confrontation was wrong.
The Oak Bluffs police chief said Tuesday that police did not receive a report about the incident.
Mr. Larkosh reiterated that Mr. Reitzas was not affiliated with Ms. Warren. “He is in no way affiliated with Ms. Warren’s campaign or personally a friend of hers, he was just simply acting as a cab driver.” Mr. Larkosh said.
Attorney Jackson said Mr. Reitzas is an unenrolled voter in Oak Bluffs.
“We feel very firmly that this should not reflect negatively on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, and it shouldn’t reflect negatively on Senator Brown’s campaign,” she said.
“There’s been a lot of negative fallout, negative reporting that’s happened since that time, and my client has been subject to some threats and also some harassment and we’re just here to present my client’s side of the story, and we hope that by doing that to diffuse some of what’s going on right now,” Mr. Larkosh said, adding that he was not aware of any action being taken against Mr. Reitzas’ taxi license.
Mr. Reitzas did not comment, though he did briefly respond to some questions. He said he overreacted, that the incident was not discussed in the cab afterward, and he did not think Ms. Warren saw what happened.
He also answered questions about a photo of him with Ms. Warren and her husband that was posted on the Internet.
“I’ve been photographed with many celebrities over the years, driving the cab,” Mr. Reitzas said.
“It’s been a very uncomfortable situation for my client and his family, he’d like this just to stop and go back to being a private person,” Mr. Larkosh said.