Pando

Your monthly helping of serious ridesharing allegations

By Nathaniel Mott , written on August 2, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

I’m honestly surprised there weren’t more reports of Uber drivers playing “Pokemon Go” in traffic.

It sounds like the perfect fit: They’re driving around populated areas with their smartphones on the dash, just waiting for them to swipe at some Pokemon or another. But I only found one incident of a passenger complaining that an Uber driver played the hit game during a ride. Here I expected this wrap-up might be a little more fun than the sexual assault, harassment, and other serious problems that have been listed so many times before There’s always next month, I guess.

Uber drivers behaving badly

In Quezon City, in the Philippines, Xstian Karlou John Marie was accused of trying to force a woman to perform oral sex on him during a ride. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has asked Uber to provide more information about the driver. Uber, for its part, said that it has already suspended the driver from its platform and is assisting the investigation.

A passenger in London shared a video of an Uber driver playing “Pokemon Go” during a 20-minute trip. “I was surprised to say the least. Obviously it’s very popular at the moment but I didn’t expect a driver to be playing it while he’s on the road,” the rider told Metro. Uber has urged the passenger to get in touch with its customer support team so it can reprimand the driver.

The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi  — who has been sexually harassed by Uber drivers in the past— said on July 29 that a driver taking her from Washington, DC to Philadelphia said she was “a fine white girl” and a “fine looking woman” when they stopped at a rest area. Nuzzi decided to end the ride there; Uber sent another driver to take her to Philly after she shared her story on Twitter.

Also on July 29, “American Idol” contestant Clay Aiken said an Uber driver threatened him with a baseball bat. The driver in turn said that his passenger (who he couldn’t identify as Aiken) dumped all of his stuff into the vehicle in search of a lost phone. After the passenger allegedly said “fuck you” when asked not to remain in the vehicle, the driver grabbed the baseball bat.

On July 28, Philadelphia’s Abdellah Elkaddi was sentenced to between seven-and-a-half and 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman in June 2015. Elkaddi was previously acquitted of rape charges brought in the same case. But a jury still found him guilty of sexual assault, indecent assault, and aggravated indecent assault for his actions against the passenger.

Redwood City’s Rodolf Vjerdha was arrested on July 23 for allegedly locking a woman in his car, touching her leg, kissing her, and asking her to take him up to her apartment in Palo Alto. Vjerdha was summoned as part of a multi-rider Uber Pool, but he picked up the first rider and insisted that she sit in the front seat while he called the other would- be passengers to cancel their rides.

Also on July 23, Chicago’s Chad Pilcher was charged with “possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number and cannabis, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, and possession of a weapon without a valid gun card” and cited for not wearing a seat belt. Uber banned Pilcher from its service, and a judge ordered him held on a $100,000 bail. He had two felony convictions.

On July 22, an Australian rapper called Nooky recorded an Uber driver using racial slurs for indigenous Australians and saying that “police take it easy on them.” Nooky himself is Aboriginal, so he took to Facebook to complain about the ride and allegedly told the driver that he wouldn’t pay for a “redneck Uber driver” who used language that was “fucking disgusting” to Nooky.

In London, a woman said that her Uber driver dragged her with this car on July 19 after she tried to retrieve a cellphone she forgot in the vehicle. The driver said he wanted £20 for returning the phone. The woman required stitches after she hit her head on the pavement when the driver sped off. Uber said the driver has been suspended from its platform while it looks into the issue.

On July 15, Chicago’s Alexander Marrero was accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger. The woman’s roommate eventually noticed that the car (of which she had received a picture from the passenger’s cousin) was outside their building. When the roommate knocked on Marrero’s window and heard the passenger’s cries, he drove away and then came back to drop her off.

Just three days earlier, an Uber driver in Florida refused a ride to a blind man with a service dog. The passenger, Robert Stigile, said that he felt the vehicle move under him because he was standing in the door frame while the conversation took place. The Uber driver, Simon Pierre Andre Nau, was later arrested for battery and failure to transport a blind person.

Boston’s Junior Clarke pleaded not guilty on July 7 after a woman accused him of trying to kiss her and inappropriately touch her during a ride. Clarke was held on $500 bail, told to stay away from the victim, and ordered not to have any contact with ridesharing or transportation services.

On July 5, an Uber driver in London allegedly told a gay couple to “stop that or get out” when he saw them kissing in his vehicle. Uber said it refunded the ride and would investigate the driver because it “celebrates diversity and does not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever."

Here’s an incident involving a Lyft driver, too

A Lyft driver hit a man in a crosswalk on July 2. The driver apparently had a green light, and the man was said to be wearing all black at 2:45am, which would have made it difficult to see him. The driver was not injured; the pedestrian reportedly “suffered serious injuries” of some kind.

A passenger was accused of sexually assaulting an Uber driver

In Tucson, Arizona a passenger named Chris Thomas Gomez was arrested for one count of sexual assault against a female Uber driver on July 22.

And I’m not sure who’s in the wrong on this one

By now you might have seen the video of an Uber driver screaming at a passenger who wouldn’t get out of his vehicle. The idea is that the Uber driver was in the wrong, but it’s not clear why the passenger antagonized him instead of getting out of the car, and CBS2 said the woman had no right to record the driver without his permission. Unless there’s more to this story, it seems like the driver was partly justified in being upset that the woman didn’t get out of the damn car.