Tow Truck Driver Arrested For Punching, Killing Man Whose Van He Was Trying To Tow

Screenshot: CBS News
Screenshot: CBS News

A confrontation over a towed vehicle turned deadly on March 17, 2023 when tow truck driver Kevon Johnson punched the owner of the van he was there to tow. The force of the punch knocked Carlyle Thomas, who was 61, to the ground, causing him to hit his head on the pavement, the New York Daily News reports. Emergency responders rushed him to a nearby hospital, but it was too late.

Thomas, a former jockey who immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica, lived close to the gas station and spent significant time there, reportedly going as far as to help the staff unload deliveries when they arrived and doing other unpaid work. According to his stepdaughter, he was there frequently enough that the majority of his social media photos were taken at the gas station.

He also frequently left his car at the station, which charges $10 for overnight parking. “We thought the gas station guys and him were cool because he was in there helping and unpacking with them,” Dominic Graham, Thomas’s nephew, told the Daily News. “We didn’t think they’d ever call a tow truck and do that.”


According to CBS News, for some reason, Thomas reportedly refused to pay for the night and walked home. About two hours later, the gas station called for a tow truck, and then called Thomas. “One of the staff members called him personally on the phone and said, ‘Your car is being towed right now. It’s already on the tow truck,’” stepdaughter Alexis Peters told CBS.

When Thomas, who had reportedly had a few drinks since parking at the gas station, showed up to dispute the tow, one of the gas station employees told CBS that he got into a “heated argument” with Johnson. Instead of calling the police to sort things out, the driver punched him in the face. There are no reports of the altercation getting physical before the fatal punch.

Police arrested Johnson and have since charged him with recklessly causing physical injury.

“I’m just happy that guy was caught and I just hope that time is served because you just took someone’s life,” Andrele Peters told CBS.

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