A complaint that began on Twitter, in which an UberX customer claims he was verbally and physically assaulted by a driver in November, has now been escalated to the District Attorney's office. George Gascon announced Tuesday that he'd be bringing misdemeanor battery charges against the driver in question, as SF Weekly and others report.

The incident happened on November 24, and customer James Alva claimed he was called a "dirty Mexican faggot" by the driver, and then was struck several times when he tried to take a photo of the driver and his license plate. No initial arrest was made, but Uber contacted Alva to offer to refund him his $14 fare.

The driver, 28-year-old San Francisco resident Daveea Whitmire, despite having served prison time and having multiple felonies and misdemeanors on his record, appears to have passed UberX's allegedly stringent background check. How? That's unclear, but his driver account was deactivated in December after the assault incident came to light.

Whitmire was in fact on probation much of last year, and skipped out on a preliminary hearing in April for felony charge of buying cocaine with intent to resell, and a misdemeanor for resisting arrest. Just a few weeks before the November incident, Whitmire's probation officer had filed a petition to revoke his probation due to an unspecified violation.

Pando Daily originally broke this story in January, and Uber responded by transferring blame to Hirease, the company they contract with to do background checks.

They said,

This driver had a clean background check when he became an Uber partner in October. Uber maintains a zero tolerance policy for any alcohol and drug-related offenses on any background check with any partner nationwide, unlike, for example, the taxi industry in San Francisco, which permits drivers with DUIs and drug offenses.

Except that couldn't possibly be true, since his first felony charge, for marijuana, dated back to 2009, and he had the second one in 2012.

To be clear, the company isn't being charged in this case, only Whitmire. But somebody still needs to answer for how this guy slipped through.

[SF Business Times]
[SF Weekly]
[Pando Daily]