The two women say the driver locked the car doors and said, “You’re not going anywhere.” The driver chalks it up to a misunderstanding. Who’s right?
It was up to an Allegheny County judge to decide whether the driver – college professor Richard Lomotey who was moonlighting with Uber – to decide whether he was guilty of unlawful restraint, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
In the case dating back to May 2019, the 38-year-old man originally from Ghana who taught as a professor at Penn State Beaver was accused by the two women of holding them captive in his Uber.
Two women who requested the ride from a Homewood bar accused Lomotey of not following their directions or the Uber GPS, pulling over and locking them inside the car. And after these charges were reported, another woman came forward saying Lomotey made unwanted advances toward her. KDKA reported.
Lomotey disputes all this, saying his Uber app froze and he pulled over to wait for it to restart and kick back on.
“I tap on the app to zoom in on the map to see whether I should make a right turn, left turn or go straight. That’s when I realized the app was frozen, so I pulled over at the side of the road at the intersection,” Lomotey said.
“She opened the door and started screaming out, ‘Niya, Niya, run,’” the driver said.
After sprinting from the car, the two 21-year-old women ran toward Penn Avenue and called police.
Lomotey says he never locked his doors, and after the women fled, he sat confused.
“Within minutes, I’m talking about three minutes, Uber had sent me a notification to go pick up someone else, so then I continue picking up people throughout the night to morning,” Lomotey told KDKA.
Then, his wife called: “She said the police just left the house looking for you over an incident,” Lomotey recounted.
The married father of two kids found himself charged with kidnapping, a count later dropped. Penn State revoked his access to campus in wake of the incident, KDKA reported, adding:
“The whole incident is just absurd,” he said. “It’s just not logical and more importantly, it never happened the way it’s been projected.”
After the bench trial in the case, the judge found Lomotey not guilty on Monday.
But the verdict can hardy be called a victory for the professor who was just out to earn a little extra cash.