California Rideshare Driver Shoots Man Attacking Woman

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

Imagine coming to the aid of a defenseless stranger, only to find out you've lost your job because you didn't want to turn a blind eye to someone in trouble. Thanks to the policies from Uber and Lyft, which require contracted drivers to be unarmed when they're working, that's the fate an Orange County, California man is likely to face after he shot a man who was assaulting a woman at an apartment complex. 

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The Orange County Sheriff's Department says the driver called 911 around 7:45 on Sunday evening and informed dispatchers about the shooting, which took place right after he dropped off a passenger at an apartment complex. 

The rideshare driver was dropping off a passenger in the area when he saw the assault in progress, the Sheriff’s Department said in a release. What else, if anything, occurred between the driver and the man prior to the shooting was not known.

Sheriff’s deputies aided the 20-year-old man who was shot until paramedics arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was stable, but in critical condition, officials said.

The rideshare driver was interviewed and later released at the scene. The assault victim was treated by paramedics at the scene, the department said.

The assault suspect could face charges pending further investigation, the department said.

The sheriff's press release didn't mention any potential charges for the armed citizen, so for the moment at least it appears that authorities believe he was justified in defending the woman with lethal force. But will that save him from being terminated by the rideshare company? Probably not. Lyft's "strict 'no weapons' policy precludes drivers from lawfully carrying on the clock. 

Our "No Weapons" policy applie when you are doing business as a representative of Lyft, which includes times that you are driving for Lyft, as well as times that you are visiting a Lyft Hub. This means that even in places where it is legal to carry a weapon, we ask that you do not carry a weapon on any Lyft property.
We approach this from a community perspective. It's hard to know what someone else is or isn't comfortable with. The mere presence of a weapon might make another community member distressed and fear for his or her own personal safety.
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And the absence of a firearm might make a "community member" bold enough to try to rape, rob, or kill a driver. 

Uber has the same policy, though they don't try to couch their disarmament demands with corporate claptrap about a "community perspective."

Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and reliable ride. That's why Uber prohibits riders and their guests, as well as driver and delivery partners, from carrying firearms of any kind while using our app*

Anyone who violates this policy may lose access to Uber.

*To the extent permitted by applicable law.

I suppose the assault suspect would have been safer if the rideshare driver had obeyed company policy, but what about the woman he was allegedly attacking? Does anyone really believe she would have been better off if the driver had abided by the "no guns allowed" edict from Lyft and Uber? 

This driver could have kept their head down and drove off to pick up their next fare. Instead, they chose to intervene and protect someone from being assaulted. Now their employer will be giving the driver the axe because they used a gun to defend a vulnerable member of the community. From my perspective, that doesn't make any sense at all. 

Being a rideshare driver is not without risks, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me that some drivers want to have their carry gun with them when they're on the clock. You shouldn't have to choose between your personal safety and a paycheck, but that's the uncomfortable position these contractors find themselves. It's not surprising that some drivers choose to disregard those policies. After all, losing a job is better than losing your life. It's just a shame that Uber and Lyft force their drivers to make the choice between obeying company policy and being able to defend themselves (and others) when they're behind the wheel. 

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