One woman has been arrested and another has agreed to turn herself in after they assaulted a San Francisco Uber driver who asked one of them to put on a mask during their ride, police say.
Malaysia King, 24, was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with assault with a caustic chemical, assault and battery, conspiracy and violation of health and safety code, according to a statement from the San Francisco Police Department.
Another suspect, 24-year-old Arna Kimiai, had not been arrested as of Friday morning, a police spokesman said. Her lawyer told police Thursday that she intended to turn herself in, according to the statement.
The San Francisco Police Department previously said that a 32-year-old Uber driver had picked up three passengers Sunday in the city’s Portola neighborhood, but ended their ride when one declined to wear a face mask, violating Uber’s policy and California’s statewide mask mandate.
The driver, Subhakar Khadka, 32, told NBC News that he told one of the passengers that he would have to stop the ride if she didn’t have a mask to put on. He said he offered to bring them to a gas station so the passenger could buy a mask.
But in the time it took to get to the gas station, the passenger threatened him, saying she could call family members “to take care of me,” Khadka said. Feeling intimidated, he said he asked the passengers to get out of the car. But he said they refused, prompting Khadka to turn on the dashcam in his car.
After the passengers refused to leave, he decided to bring them back to their pickup location, Khadka said. While they were on the way, Khadka said they were arguing about the mask, the passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts, and one had opened a car door. So he said he stopped the car again.
“Luckily, my camera worked … it recorded audio, it recorded a video of the whole scene,” Khadka said.
Khadka said one of the passengers took out pepper spray and sprayed inside his car after he dropped them off.
Another passenger took Khadka’s cellphone out of his hands, but he was able to get it back, police said.
Several videos that circulated also showed the passengers ripping off the driver’s mask and coughing on him.
Khadka said the situation made him feel vulnerable.
“I could do nothing about it. I could not lay hands on them,” he said. “I could not verbally challenge them.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi thanked police for their “quick work, and for standing up for drivers.”
‘Anti-Asian hate and violence is shocking and heartbreaking—and it must stop. When one community is being attacked, we are all being attacked,” Khosrowshahi wrote on Twitter. Police are not saying the assault was a hate crime.
An Uber statement added that all three passengers have been banned from the ride-hailing platform, and Uber has offered support to Khadka. “When one community is being attacked, we are all being attacked,” the statement said.
Lt. Tracy McCray, who heads the San Francisco Police Department’s robbery unit, echoed that sentiment.
“The behavior captured on video in this incident showed a callous disregard for the safety and wellbeing of an essential service worker in the midst of a deadly pandemic,” McCray said. “We take this conduct very seriously in San Francisco, and we’re committed to ensuring that justice is done in this case.”
“We’re glad to hear that Ms. Kimiai intends to do the right thing and turn herself in to the nearest law enforcement agency, and we hope it happens promptly,” McCray added.
The third passenger in the car was not considered a suspect. Police said the incident is still under investigation.
Efforts to reach King and Kimiai were unsuccessful Friday morning.