The unmasked woman caught on video coughing and striking her Uber driver has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office confirmed Wednesday.
The 24-year-old defendant, Arna Kimiai was arrested with her friend in March after their Uber driver, Subhakar Khadka, shared a video of the passengers hitting, coughing on and ripping off his mask after he ended the ride because one of the women was not wearing her mask.
The women, who were picked up in San Francisco, became aggressive with the driver after he told them he wouldn’t complete the ride. Kimiai also tried to grab his phone and ripped his mask off his face.
Kimiai turned herself in a week after the incident — and after video of the attack went viral. She has been charged with assault
and attempted first-degree robbery, both felonies, as well as battery on a transit employee, and violation of a local health ordinance, which are misdemeanors.
Kimiai’s next court date has been set for May 3. She is expected to appear alongside her co-defendant, Malaysia King, 24, another passenger in the car.
A GoFundMe drive that was set up to assist Khadka had raised more than $106,216 as of Wednesday. The driver told the Chronicle that he will spend the money on pursuing legal action and to support his family.
The attack on March 7 happened after Khadka picked up the three women passengers in the Portola district of San Francisco, at the corner of San Bruno Avenue and Felton Street. After Khadka saw that one of the women wasn’t wearing a mask, he ended the ride and told the women they were free to leave his car, which they refused to do. He told the passengers that if they didn’t leave, he would stop in the middle of the freeway.
Kimiai, who was not wearing a mask when she coughed on the driver, struck Khadka in the head with her elbow before ripping off his mask. After the women left, one of them pepper-sprayed inside the window. King was also arrested in Las Vegas later that week.
Chronicle staff writer Mallory Moench contributed to this report.
*By Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle*