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Uber Driver Charged With Misdemeanor Battery; DA’s Office Wants To Make Example

by John Nuño
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Uber Vehicle

An Uber rideshare car in San Francisco. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A driver for the ridesharing service Uber was charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery Tuesday in San Francisco after striking a passenger and forcing a woman to the ground by her ponytail in separate incident unrelated to Uber, the district attorney’s office said.

Daveea Whitmire, 28, of San Francisco is accused of punching a passenger in the hand and elbowing him in the chest after the two got into an argument in city’s Castro District on Nov. 24, 2013.

According to prosecutors, the man didn’t think Whitmire was the assigned driver for his ride and tried to take a photo of the car’s license plate. That’s when, it is alleged, that Whitmire struck out.

While Uber was not charged in the criminal complaint, District Attorney George Gascón told KCBS that he hopes to use the case against Whitmire as an example pointing to the need for tighter regulations for the ridesharing industry.

“We want to make sure that there are proper background investigations that are conducted on people that are being employed as drivers and operators,” he said.

“We want to make sure that there is sufficient insurance to protect the public.”

While Whitmire passed Uber’s background checks, court records show that he had a felony drug conviction in 2009, and is currently on probation for misdemeanor battery.

The second misdemeanor battery charge stems from an incident, unrelated to Uber, in which Whitmore allegedly pulled a victim by her ponytail onto the ground on Haight Street in March.

Meanwhile, the District Attorney’s Office is still examining filing criminal charges for Syed Muzzafar, the Uber driver who was arrested for hitting and killing 6-year-old Sofia Liu on New Year’s Eve. Muzaffar had been accused of reckless driving in Florida nearly decade ago.

Under California law, Uber’s background checks are prohibited from using records that are more than seven years old.

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