An Uber driver in San Francisco says he was mocked, assaulted, coughed on, and pepper-sprayed on Sunday after denying service to three female passengers who refused to wear masks in his vehicle. One of the passengers also allegedly tried to steal the cell phone of the driver, 32-year-old Subhakar Khadka, who caught the most of the incident on film.
The video, which has already garnered hundreds of thousands of views online, begins after Khadka had already pulled the car over because the three passengers continuously refused to wear masks. Seconds later, the passenger sitting directly behind Khadka rips off her mask, yells “Fuck the mask,” and intentionally coughs several times in Khadka’s direction.
The woman sitting behind the passenger seat then yells, “And I got corona” (obviously referring to COVID-19). She screams for several seconds.
The passenger seated behind Khadka can then be seen suddenly lurching towards the front of the vehicle and attempting to grab Khadka’s phone from the dash.
Khadka was able to grab the phone out of her hand as she tried to bring it into the backseat, saying “keep your hands off my property,” leading to all three passengers to become unruly. The passenger who tried to take the phone then reached forward, grabbing the mask off of Khadka’s face and throwing it at him. Another passenger yells, “You about to get your ass kicked,” and “Now you about to get beat the fuck up.”
Khadka remained relatively calm throughout the minute-long interaction, even having the awareness to pick up the mask that was torn from his face and hold it up to the camera to show that one of the straps was ripped off.
According to CBS station KPIX 5 in San Francisco, police also believe that one of the women sprayed pepper spray “into the vehicle and toward the driver after leaving the vehicle,” although that is not shown in the video.
Khadka told KPIX 5 that he believed he was targeted by the women 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,” he said Khadka. “If I was another complexion, I would have not gotten that treatment from them.”
He said that when he noticed the passenger seated behind him wasn’t wearing a mask, he asked her to please put one on. She said she didn’t have one, so he pulled into a nearby gas station so she could purchase one, but instead they began to mock him using racial slurs so he told them they had to get out of his vehicle.
The driver said that, at the end of all of this, he was pepper-sprayed.
“She pepper sprayed inside my car, from the passenger window that was open little bit, that was the only window open in my car,” Khadka told the news station, adding that he had to stop driving because the fumes made it difficult for him to breathe. He said that Uber gave him a total of $120 dollars to clean the vehicle’s interior, but that this wasn’t enough money for that task.
In a statement to KPIX 5, Uber said, “The behavior seen in the video is appalling. The rider no longer has access to Uber.”
San Francisco police are reportedly investigating the incident. The Uber passengers have not yet been identified.
[image via Subhakar Khadka/YouTube]
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