It's Monday, and on-demand car service Uber is facing another PR nightmare after a driver in San Francisco allegedly smashed a passenger in the side of the head with a hammer.
The incident happened last week, and the San Francisco Chronicle first reported it on Friday. According to police, 26-year-old Patrick Karajah has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury. There may also be an attempted murder charge forthcoming.
Here's what went down, according to the Chronicle:
Karajah allegedly picked up the victim and his two friends from a bar at about 2 a.m. Tuesday. While driving the two men and one woman to their destination, he got into a dispute with the victim over the route he was taking, according to court documents.
Karajah, who was driving for the basic UberX service, stopped near the intersection of Ellsworth Street and Alemany Boulevard and forced the victim and his friends to get out, according to documents.
Once the victim was out of the vehicle, Karajah struck him on the side of his head with a hammer, and then drove away, authorities said.
The victim was found "slipping in and out of consciousness on the sidewalk, suffering from severe fractures and trauma to the head."
"We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation," said Uber in a statement. Uber confirms it has terminated the driver's account.
As Uber, as well as other competing companies like Lyft, face challenges from state regulators over the legality of their business models, safety issues have also arisen at an alarming rate. You may remember earlier this year when an Uber driver was accused of sexual assault in D.C. That wasn't the first instance of an Uber driver reportedly attacking a passenger. In July, an Uber driver took riders on a high-speed chase, again in DC. Then in June, an Uber driver reportedly kidnapped a drunk woman and took her to a motel, where he slept with her in the room and “fondled her over her clothes and suggested he wanted to have sex, but didn’t force it.”
As I've said before, attacks aren't just an Uber problem – regular old taxis have their share of incidents on the record. But Uber, and companies like it, rely on the schtick that they a cut above taking a taxi – an easier and safer option. So when an Uber driver beats someone in the skull with a hammer it's a pretty big blow to its credibility.
But stories like this don't seem to be hampering Uber's growth too much. According to reports from the city itself, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are killing the taxi business in San Francisco.
Image via Uber, Facebook