Police: Passenger bloodied, arrested in tussle with Uber driver

March 22, 2019
Richard Linsley Bacchus

Raleigh police arrested a man early Thursday for an attack on an Uber driver.

The passenger, Richard Linsley Bacchus, 50, of 153 Summitt Ave. in Raleigh, appeared to have gotten the worst of the encounter. Police said he had a bloody nose and had to be taken to the hospital before his arrest.

The driver was also injured in the attack. He was recovering at home by mid-morning and declined the opportunity to speak to a WRAL reporter. Police did not say whether the driver acted in self-defense.

According to the arrest report, Bacchus punched and hit the driver in the face and head.

Bacchus was charged with simple assault and injury to personal property for damage done to the windshield wipers of the car.

The assault took place near Fayetteville Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard around 2 a.m.

It’s estimated that there are now as many as 1.5 million Uber drivers working in the United States and Thursday’s incident is making Triangle Uber drivers think more about security.

For Holly Viall, being an Uber driver is a flexible and enjoyable career that pays the bills.

“I always say I’m going to turn my Uber on today and see where it takes me because you never know,” she said.

Vaill has been driving for about a year, and and has had only one scary incident on the job, involving a bicyclist.

“He started banging on my windshield and busted it in like six places,” she said.

To stay safe, Vaill keeps her doors locked until the customer approaches, and she avoids working nights.

In the wake of Thursday morning’s attack, local Uber drivers say they take safety seriously.

“I make sure someone knows where I’m at when I’m driving. That helps me feel a little bit more confident,” Uber driver Anna Maria Cross said.

Uber also provides a place within their app for drivers to share their location with anyone they choose.

“If I feel it’s an unsafe neighborhood, I won’t go,” driver Luis Pietri said.

Uber drivers said the biggest trigger for bad behavior by passengers is alcohol.

“Their head is already distorted from drinking, so you just have to find a common ground in talking to them and keep their mind clear,” Pietri said.

Many Uber drivers said they use a GoPro mounted on the dashboard, facing the passenger, so if anything happens, they have it on tape.

Bacchus listed his place of employment as AC Restaurants, the group run by celebrity chef Ashley Christensen that includes Poole’s diner and Death & Taxes. An AC Restaurants spokeswoman said he did ” contract work on a sporadic basis.”

She shared this statement:

“Generally, in the case of an arrest, our company’s stance is that a worker is innocent until proven guilty. But when the charges are of a violent nature, we take a different approach, as the safety of our staff and guests is our first priority. In this case, unless Mr. Bacchus is cleared of the charges, we will be severing all manner of working relationship with him for the foreseeable future.”