31-year-old Ahmad Fawad Yusufi was resting inside his car while on a break driving for Uber when he was approached by a man demanding Yusufi hand over his wallet and phone; police later responded to a call of a gunshot victim on Potrero Avenue near Cesar Chavez Street — the victim, Yusufi, eventually succumbing to his injuries.
On November 28th, Yusufi had parked his car along a curb in the Mission District to rest after a long shift driving Uber.
Rideshare companies Lyft and Uber don't have any designated rest areas for drivers. They're simply kicked out of the app after 10 consecutive hours and left to find respite elsewhere — be it back at home, a nearby public parking lot, etc. — for at least 8 hours before being allowed to start another shift. (For Lyft, drivers can work up to 12 hours before they're automatically logged off the app to rest.)
An Afghan refugee was shot and killed while driving for Uber in San Francisco. But family say the company disabled his account and won’t help them find answers.— AJ+ (@ajplus) December 16, 2021
Ahmad Fawad Yusufi was an ex-U.S. Army interpreter and his children’s sole provider, family says, who seek $4M in aid. pic.twitter.com/yHwxDeEHMx
Yusufi's vulnerable state sleeping inside his car isn't anything unusual. It's been well documented now that many Uber and Lyft drivers choose to sleep in their cars rather than drive back home to rest, saving themselves both time and money. And it's that vulnerability that allegedly led 38-year-old Clifford Lavern Stokes to disturb Yusufi, demanding he hand over his wallet and phone. Strokes eventually brandished a gun against Yusufi when he was reaching for those items— and Strokes allegedly shot him during the altercation.
Yusufi was taken to a nearby hospital when SF police arrived on the scene and found him reeling from at least one gunshot wound. His wounds, however, proved too grave; Yusufi later died at the hospital from his sustained injuries — a death his brother, Mohammad Dawood, said could've been prevented if drivers like Yusufi were given better, safer working conditions.
“[Uber] pays wages so low and sustains such precarious working conditions that hundreds of Afghan drivers drive from Sacramento to San Francisco each week and sleep in their cars in unsafe environments – just to earn enough each week to provide for their families,” Dawood said in a letter to the rideshare company that was shared by The Sacramento Bee. “And now after all the work we did for your company, you are turning your backs on us in our time of need.”
According to KPIX, Yusufi also served alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan for at least nine years before leaving the country as American forces were pulled out. The news outlet reported Yusufi relocated his family to Sacramento in 2018.
Because of Prop. 22, Yusufi, who was the sole provider of his family of four, was considered an independent contractor by Uber — not a company employee. Thus, Yusufi (and his immediate family) aren't eligible for financial compensations for his death; the fact that Yusufi was also not logged in the app when he was fatally shot by Strokes makes the rideshare company even less culpable for the contractor's death.
In lieu of employee-afforded funds, which, at the very least, would pay for Yusufi's burial funds (as long as they didn’t exceed $7,500) in California, Dawood has started a GoFundMe for Yusufi’s family. The campaign, as of publishing, has raised more than $65K in donations.
The investigation remained open and police urged anyone with information to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or text an anonymous message to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.
Related: Potrero Avenue Shooting Victim Identified as Father of Three Who Helped U.S. Army in Afghanistan
Photo: Courtesy of GoFundMe