A Florida Lyft passenger has been charged with battery and child abuse when he attacked his driver over a plastic partition to protect against the spread of COVID-19, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office said.
Travis Smith, 36, was traveling in the vehicle with a friend and the friend’s 7-year-old son, with the Lyft taking them from Flagler Beach to Smith’s home in Palm Coast. As seen in the driver’s dashcam video, Smith repeatedly asked the driver about the partition, asking him who paid for it and who installed it.
When the driver says that he did it himself, Smith says, “I think you’re lying,” First Coast News said, and about a minute later, tells his friend to get ready — and immediately tears down the partition and puts the driver in a chokehold while the 7-year-old screams in the background.
The driver managed to get the car off the road, and the fight spilled into the street. The dashcam captures some of the movement and sounds from outside, including someone yelling to “Call the police.”
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies arrived to find Smith holding on top of the driver, holding him down. They separated the two men and conducted interviews. Smith’s version of events was that the driver began to drive erratically and he grabbed him and forced him to pull over to protect the passengers. The fight, he said, began after they pulled over.
The driver had his dashcam to back up his version — that Smith tore down the partition and put him in a chokehold while the car was in motion, suddenly and with no warning.
Smith, who was apparently intoxicated, was arrested and charged with battery on the driver and child abuse, because he put the 7-year-old life’s in jeopardy by attacking the driver while in a moving vehicle. Smith was released after posting a $7,500 bond.
“This was a very dangerous situation for not only the people inside the vehicle but for the other motorists on the roadway,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “This drunk attacked an innocent driver and put numerous lives in danger. These rider-share services can quickly become dangerous, and drivers should be cautious of who they let in their vehicle. Thankfully, the video recording device captured the entire incident, and he went to jail.”
The driver suffered minor injuries during the altercation, and deputies drove Smith’s friend and his son to a hotel.
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[Featured image: Screenshot from First Coast News video]