SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An Uber driver in San Francisco was assaulted and coughed-upon by a woman riding with two other women after he refused them service for not wearing masks, in an attack the driver captured on video.
San Francisco police also said one of the women sprayed what is believed to be pepper spray into the vehicle and toward the driver after leaving the vehicle. The incident happened Sunday at about 12:45 p.m. at San Bruno Ave. and Silver Ave.
UPDATE: Lyft Bans Maskless Uber Passenger Who Coughed On, Assaulted Driver; Woman Posts Videos Taken Before Incident
The video was shot on Sunday by the driver, identified as 32-year-old Subhakar Khadka. In it, three women are seen in the back seat berating the driver using profanities. At one point, the woman who coughed on the driver also grabbed his cellphone from the center dash area and ripped off the facemask he was wearing.
The driver said he had pulled over to tell the women to wear facemasks and the driver is heard telling the women to get out of his car. The video begins with one woman telling the driver, “F— the masks!” and then repeatedly coughing at him.
Khadka says he believes he was harassed and mocked by the unruly passengers because he is a South Asian immigrant.
“I never said anything bad to them, I never cursed, I was not raised that way. I don’t hit people, I am not raised that way, so they were not getting out of my car,” said Khadka.
When he noticed one woman wasn’t wearing a mask, says he asked her to put one on. He drove to a nearby gas station so she could buy one. But by then, he says the racial slurs, and taunting had already begun.
“You guys are animals to treat other human beings like this,” he told KPIX 5.
And that wasn’t the worst of it. He says after they eventually got out of the car, he says the woman in red pepper-sprayed him.
“She pepper-sprayed inside my car, from the passenger window that was open little bit, that was the only window open in my car,” he said.
Khadka says he had to get out of his car, because it became difficult to breathe.
He says he came to the US eight years ago and works hard to support his family in Nepal. He says he was targeted because of his race.
“If I was another complexion, I would have not gotten that treatment from them,” he said. “The moment I opened my mouth to speak, they realized I’m among one of them, so it’s easy for them to intimidate me.”
His message to the women is, “Since you were born and raised here in the United States, don’t think the other person is less human.”
The driver said Uber gave him $120 dollars in total cleaning funds after multiple requests, which is still not sufficient.
Uber confirmed the incident and in an email to KPIX 5 said, “The behavior seen in the video is appalling. The rider no longer has access to Uber.”
San Francisco police said the driver was able to regain possession of his phone from the woman and the three women fled after the attack.
Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.
*By Betty Yu, CBS SF Bay Area*