WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: A drunken passenger has attacked a ride-share driver, placing him in a chokehold, over the plastic partition the driver had installed to protect himself from coronavirus.
The footage released by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office shows Travis Smith, 36, talking with a Lyft driver just after midnight on August 2 as he travelled through Florida with a friend and his friend’s seven-year-old son.
Smith, who is sitting behind the driver starts questioning the driver about the plastic he had used to section off the front and back seats of the car.
The driver explains that Lyft recommends drivers use partitions to help keep passengers and drivers save from COVID-19.
Smith, who is visibly intoxicated, continues to slur his words as he asks detailed questions about how the driver installed it and the conversation takes a dark turn.
‘Nobody is allowed to open the door’
The man tells the driver he has seen the same set up in other vehicles and accuses him of lying about installing it himself.
“I think you’re a liar,” Smith says.
The overhead light turns on and the driver asks the passengers if they have opened one of the doors, they both deny it and accuse the driver of turning on the light.
“Nobody is allowed to open the door,” Smith says.
The driver seems confused and continues driving as the inebriated passenger covers the light with his hand.
Smith and the other passenger continue to talk quietly amongst themselves when suddenly Smith rips through the plastic partition and attacks the driver.
Smith places the driver in a chokehold as the drive struggles to control the vehicle.
The other passenger yells “get that mother f****r,” before jumping out of the vehicle, the child begins to scream and cry.
Flagler County police arrived on the scene where they reported finding two men fighting.
After reviewing the footage from the Lyft, Smith was placed under arrest, charging him with battery and child abuse “due to putting the 7-year-old life’s in jeopardy during the attack in a moving vehicle”.
The driver sustained minor injuries including a haematoma on the side of his forehead.
Police say the incident was very dangerous, not only for the people in the vehicles but for other cars on the road.
“This drunk attacked an innocent driver and put numerous lives in danger. These rider-share services can quickly become dangerous and drivers should be cautious of who they let in their vehicle. Thankfully the video recording device captured the entire incident and he went to jail,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement.
The other passenger and the child were driven to a local hotel by deputies.
Uber’s new COVID safe policy
Uber Australia announced on Thursday it would be encouraging all riders to wear a face covering when travelling in their vehicles in NSW .
Uber said the move was to help ensure the safety of passengers ad drivers, as well as the community.
The ride sharing service now also provided eligible drivers with free disinfectant and hand sanitiser.
DiDi ride-share is doing their part to keep COVID safe by asking all riders to sit in the backseat and taking no more than three passengers per ride.
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