Another story of an Uber driver allegedly attacking a female rider is making the rounds in Los Angeles.
Maria Garcia, a 32-year-old sommelier from the Mid-City area, says it happened in the early morning hours of June 3. She had been to a Koreatown bar with a friend when she requested an UberX car for a ride home.
She dozed off and the driver, she says, took her to Gardena instead of Mid-City.
Garcia awoke after "he unzipped my pants and felt me up," she told us. She published an account on Facebook:
I awoke to my driver crawling on top of me. He was unzipping my pants. I squirmed and told him to get off me. He ignored my initial demands and continued to try and kiss me and to reach under my shirt. Eventually, I managed to push him off and I screamed that I was calling the police. He said he hadn’t done anything wrong and that he would also be calling the police.
Indeed, Cops were called, Uber was contacted, and Garcia is clearly shaken by the episode. "I'm ridiculously upset by it," she said.
Uber spokeswoman Taylor Patterson told us:
We are looking into this report and immediately reached out to the rider as well as law enforcement to offer our support and cooperation. The driver’s access to the platform has been suspended while authorities investigate.
Garcia said she feels police didn't take her claims seriously because she had been drinking.
She said cops told her it was her word against the driver's. Gardena authorities confirm that officers originally told her the case was immediately closed.
Garcia suggested that responding officers were unprofessional. She says they told her to call her parents for a ride and that they initially refused to take her home unless she was handcuffed in the rear of a patrol car for officer safety.
Gardena police Lt. Russ Temple says the ball was "dropped" when authorities said the case was closed. But he said that, after reviewing audio from the officers' audio recorders, officials determined they otherwise "did their job professionally ... right down the line."
The investigation is open, he said.
The driver also called authorities, the lieutenant said, and he's cooperating with detectives.
Though Garcia says she believes her drinking clouded cops' response, Temple acknowledged that California law specifically says sexual contact with someone so inebriated (or passed out) they can't give consent is just as illicit as other nonconsensual sex.
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"We're taking it very serious, from the ground up," he said.
Garcia hopes the episode serves as a warning for other women who use ride-share services after a late night out:
At least if I say what happened and put out, it will create more awareness and maybe it doesn't happen to someone else.