Fake Uber Driver Who Kidnapped a Female Rider Is in Jail, Cops Say

Fake Uber Driver Who Kidnapped a Female Rider Is in Jail, Cops Say
File photo by João Paulo/Flickr

It started early on the morning of April 3.

The victim was waiting for a ride, possibly an Uber, at Vermont and Eighth streets in Koreatown, police said. A suspect happened to pull up in a dark SUV, asking if she was the one who had hailed him, they said.

With the woman in the vehicle, he drove a half-mile or so east, toward downtown, ultimately parking in the 1300 block of Ingraham Street in the Westlake district, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

While inside the SUV he attacked her, choked her and raped her, police alleged. At a news conference today, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the victim had been choked to unconsciousness three times during the attack.

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She fought back valiantly, and her screams are what helped to ultimately put a suspect behind bars, he indicated.

The victim's screams were so loud, in fact, that residents in the working-class block of old apartment buildings called 911 about 3:35 a.m. that day, the LAPD said in a statement.

Arriving officers checked the area, heard the woman's cries and tried to rescue her, police said. The vehicle was locked, so cops used batons to break its windows, they said.

The suspect got behind the wheel and drove off, however, prompting Officer Jhoel DeJesus, who was in his path, to fire off a round at the driver, authorities said.

The suspect got away, and the victim was dropped off near James M. Wood Boulevard and Columbia Avenue, police said. 

Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that 39-year-old Dartanyun Smith was arrested over the weekend in connection with the attack.

DNA evidence helped detectives track down a suspect, police said. The man was not an Uber driver, they said, but he posed as one.

Smith was booked on suspicion of rape and kidnapping, the LAPD stated. The case could see "gang enhancements," police said, indicating that he's a gang member or associate.

Smith's Los Angeles Sheriff's Department arrest log includes multiple stints in jail. 

Beck said Smith's record was "extensive," including time served for robbery. Smith was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

The suspect in the attack was not hit by gunfire, cops said. The condition of the victim was unknown, although police did say that instead of trying to continue to pursue the suspect, officers who came across the victim stopped to render aid.


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