John Kinosh, U.S. Marine, faces felony charge after video of brutal cab driver attack goes viral

John Kinosh (left), Charles Hawkesworth

(CBS) SURF CITY, N.C. - A Marine will be facing a felony charge in the alleged assault of a North Carolina cab driver, whose story became public after a video of the assault was posted online, Jacksonville Daily News reports.

On Sunday, Gunnery Sgt. John Kinosh was charged with two misdemeanors - assault inflicting serious injury and communicating threats in the alleged beating of Charles Hawkesworth. Ernie Lee, district attorney for Onslow County, said he reviewed video of the attack Wednesday and issued a new felony charge of assault inflicting serious bodily injury after a continued investigation.

The video allegedly shows the cab driver being pummeled early Sunday morning by his passenger, who is believed to be Kinosh, a soldier stationed with Marine Special Operations Command Special Operations School at Camp Lejeune.

Rex Bowen, owner of Island Taxi, the company  Hawkesworth works for, told NBC affiliate WECT Sunday night that the victim suffered multiple fractures to his face and received about 15 stitches, in addition to going through reconstructive surgery.

Brittany Schwartz, Hawkesworth's girlfriend, stated in a Facebook post Wednesday that Hawkesworth will need two titanium plates to reconnect his cheekbone and eye socket.

"The other fractures should be able to grow back together on their own," she stated. "Charles should only be out of commission for two weeks, and then should be able to get back to a semi-normal life."

Col. James Glynn, commanding officer of Marine Special Operations School, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, stated in an email release that the command is aware of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"We are fully cooperating with local officials to get to the bottom of this matter quickly and efficiently," he stated.

Chief Mike Halstead of the Surf City Police Department said Monday that Kinosh checked himself into a "mental evaluation center" right after the incident and warrants had not yet been served, Jacksonville Daily News reported. Halstead said Kinosh cannot be served until he is released from the psychiatric hospital.

Bowen said he installed video cameras into all of his cabs to ensure the safety of his drivers and passengers. He told WECT he's been in business for five years and this is the first time one of his drivers has ever been assaulted.

"It's disappointing that something like this would happen ... We try to be a friendly business," Bowen said. "It just amazes me that the guy flipped the way he did. I understand he's checked himself into a mental institution to avoid prosecution. That bothers me even more."