An Uber driver already on probation for misdemeanor battery and a misdemeanor narcotics-related charge in San Francisco is facing another count of misdemeanor battery in connection with an alleged assault of a passenger last year, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Daveea Whitmire, 28, of San Francisco allegedly had an altercation with a passenger about 2 a.m. Nov. 24 when the passenger reportedly became suspicious of Whitmire because his license plate number did not match the vehicle's license plate number on the Uber app. An argument ensued and Whitmire reportedly kicked the passenger out of the car. When the passenger tried to photograph the license plate, Whitmire reportedly attacked him. The passenger was not seriously injured.
Police at the scene found insufficient evidence to book Whitmire, which prompted the victim to appeal to the District Attorney's Office.
Whitmire was in court Wednesday on prosecutors' motion to amend the complaint on his original case, adding an additional misdemeanor count of battery, Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian said.
The case highlights the somewhat ambiguous regulatory environment that so-called transportation network companies such as Uber exist in, and how far the companies go to vet their drivers.
Uber has said it performs background checks on drivers, but previous news reports have stated that Whitmire had a felony criminal record, including a stint in prison.
Following the November incident, Uber said all new and existing drivers would go through more extensive background checks.
The change came on the heels of an incident in January in which 6-year-old Sofia Liu was fatally struck by an Uber driver who was awaiting a fare in the Tenderloin.
Companies such as Uber are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, and District Attorney George Gascón told The San Francisco Examiner that his office is working with the CPUC to close what he said are “gaping holes” — hiring practices and underinsurance issues — in the current regulations regarding ride-service companies.
Gascón said his biggest concern with this new business model is consumer protection and that drivers have enough insurance to protect themselves and their passengers.