The timing on this one seems odd, doesn't it?
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an UberX driver pleaded not guilty in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday after allegations that he bashed a passenger in the head with a hammer. This, just hours before the SF District Attorney told the ridesharing company that it needed to dramatically change how it does business.
The Chron apparently got word late this afternoon that 26-year-old Pacifica man Patrick Karajah allegedly picked up two men and one woman from a unnamed bar at 2 a.m. Tuesday.
He apparently got into a verbal altercation with one of his male passengers over the route he was taking, kicked everyone out at Ellsworth Street and Alemany Boulevard, and allegedly hit the passenger he'd been arguing with on the side of the head with a hammer that he happened to have in the car.
The victim has "severe fractures and trauma to the head," the Chron reports, and Karajah was arrested later at his home.
Friday evening, Uber spokesperson Eva Behrend sent this statement to SFist regarding the incident:
"Safety is Uber's #1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following any serious allegations, which we have done. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation.”
The timing of this news item is particularly strange — typically, the San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney's Office makes an effort to alert the media to cases that might be of interest, as this one most obviously is. It's odd that, instead, we're only hearing about this on a Friday afternoon — helpfully, the DA's office sent a note to media at 4:08 p.m. saying that District Attorney George Gascon will only be available at "4:40 SHARP" for ten minutes to discuss the case.
And finally, of course, there's the fact that last night, Gascon's office sent a note to Uber and Lyft telling them that, among other things, they must "remove all statements from their mobile apps, websites and other publications that imply their background checks reveal drivers’ complete criminal history," calling such claims "patently untrue."
It's unclear if Karajah, like UberX driver Daveea Whitmire, had a criminal record that the ridesharing company failed to pick up on. What we do know is that as of Thursday, he's been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury, and is free on $125,000 bail.