An Asian San Francisco Uber Driver was reportedly coughed on, pepper-sprayed, and assaulted after asking three women to wear masks in his car and then denying them a ride because they refused to do so. He caught most of it on video.
Subhakar Khadka, 32, was very polite to the women when asking them to mask-up in his car. That triggered the women and one of them coughed on him repeatedly while yelling profanities at the driver. They also ripped his mask off his face and grabbed his phone. The incident occurred on Sunday at approximately 12:45 p.m. at San Bruno Ave. and Silver Ave.
KPIX 5 reporter Betty Yu tweeted that the assault began when he noticed that one of the women was not wearing a mask. He asked her to put one on before driving them to a gas station where they could buy some.
Khadka is from Nepal and he believes that the attack on him was racially motivated. “If I was another complexion, I would have not gotten that treatment from them … The moment I opened my mouth to speak, they realized I’m not among one of them, so it’s easy for them to intimidate me,” he stated. He came to the U.S. eight years ago and works hard to support his family back in Nepal.
(Video Credit: KPIX CBS SF Bay Area)
“I never said anything bad to them, I never cursed, I was not raised that way. I don’t hit people, I am not raised that way, so they were not getting out of my car,” said Khadka.
“Are you stupid?” one of the women asked in the video.
“You guys are animals to treat other human beings like this,” he commented.
“Since you were born and raised here in the United States, don’t think the other person is less human,” he warned them.
This is far from the first time that an incident like this has occurred in San Francisco involving an Asian-American since the pandemic began. Stop AAPI Hate reports that between March and December of 2020 there were over 2,808 occurrences of anti-Asian hate crimes.
The driver said that after one of the women got out of the car, she pepper-sprayed him “like a roach” through the passenger window. “She pepper-sprayed inside my car, from the passenger window that was open a little bit, that was the only window open in my car,” he recounted. The driver had to exit his vehicle because it was difficult to breathe after that.
He said that the woman in red pepper sprayed him "like a roach."
Khadka said “if I was another complexion, I would have not gotten that treatment from them… The moment I opened my mouth to speak, they realized I'm not among one of them, so it's easy for them to intimidate me."
— Betty Yu (@BettyKPIX) March 9, 2021
Uber has been made aware of the incident. “The behavior seen in the video is appalling. The rider no longer has access to Uber,” the company relayed in a statement.
UPDATE: An Uber spokesperson sent me this statement— “The behavior seen in the video is appalling. The rider no longer has access to Uber.”
— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) March 9, 2021
Khadka had to fight Uber for funds to thoroughly clean his car after the incident. In the end, he was compensated $120 which was said to be allegedly insufficient.
UPDATE: Subhakar shared these images with me detailing how Uber offered him $20 to clean his car after one of the riders, according to SFPD sprayed what is believed to be pepper spray in his car.
Uber then offered him $40. In the end he was given $120 for his ordeal. pic.twitter.com/iEHaf9aYTD
— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) March 9, 2021
San Francisco police said the Khadka was able to get his phone back from the woman. All three women took off after the attack.
This has happened to ride-share drivers before when they attempt to enforce mask use. One of many examples took place in Chicago in February when a Lyft driver was assaulted after requesting that a passenger wear a mask. He asked the passenger to exit his car and they spit on him.
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