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TPD investigates after Tucson man allegedly assaulted by Lyft driver

TUCSON – Tucson Police Department is investigating an alleged assault involving a Lyft driver.

Austin Smith and his wife, Joanna Solpan say their Lyft driver became aggressive with them on Saturday night after they got in the car. The driver reportedly told the couple they were late for pick up.

“I was scared. I had just asked Austin afterward, ‘are you okay?’ I checked his head to make sure everything looked the same,” Solpan said. “He was covered in blood. His shirt was covered in blood. He didn’t know what was going on. He stood up and he was so confused with what had just happened.”

“He had just snapped completely; kinda off the chart aggressive. He was just explaining that you guys were six minutes late, you’re cutting into my time, I have a family to feed saying stuff like that,” Smith said. “I just looked at my wife and said I think we need to get out of the car, we need to call another Lyft or Uber, and we’ll just take another car.”

He said the driver then pulled over and they got out of the car, failing to close the car door all the way. Smith said this made the driver start screaming at them.

“So I walked over and I shut the door pretty firmly because I was frustrated with the situation as well. We just wanted to get home,” Smith said. “I had turned around and started walking towards the sidewalk and she was already ordering the Lyft or other Uber. While she was doing that, while I was walking with my back turned, he had then gotten out of the car and sprinted towards me with full force, and grabbed me by the shirt and threw me into the nearby bushes. After he had done that, he had climbed on top of me and started hitting me in the head repeatedly over and over and over again.”

News 4 Tucson reached out to Lyft regarding this incident they provided the following statement.

“Safety is fundamental to Lyft and there is no place for violence of any kind the Lyft community. We have permanently banned the driver from the Lyft platform and have reached out to the rider to offer support. We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”

The ridesharing company does provide criminal background checks on their drivers and has developed a critical response line for passengers and drivers to report their safety concerns.

For more safety tips, click here. 

Denelle Confair

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