Lyft driver, passengers shot dead at Woodlawn; Lawyer says company must do more to protect drivers

CHICAGO (WLS) – Lawyer for a Lyft driver claims the company left their client to fend for themselves after a gunman shot the driver and his two passengers, smashing his car’s back window, at Woodlawn on the South Side last month.

Lawyer Bryant Greening posted two videos which he said were taken by the driver’s dash cam in early December 19. They show the driver speeding through traffic as he repeatedly tries to contact Lyft’s emergency team, then dodges with the two rear passengers when shots are fired from an SUV.

No one was hit by the gunfire, but the driver was later beaten by friends of the passengers when he dropped them off, videos show.

Lyft released a statement Tuesday evening, saying: “Safety is fundamental to Lyft, and the described incident is of deep concern. We have been in contact with the driver to offer our support and stand ready to assist the forces in the area. ‘order in their investigation. “

Greening said he plans to file a lawsuit against the company “in the coming weeks.”

The driver does not want to be identified, Greening said.

The 52-year-old driver’s dashcam video begins when he picked up two passengers near the University of Chicago. A female passenger can be seen slumped in the back seat, whispering on her cell phone. Another passenger, who you cannot see in the video, is hiding on the floor of the car.

Within 30 seconds, an SUV behind the Lyft pulls up beside them and someone starts pulling.

The bullets smash the windshield and startle the driver and the two passengers, although neither of them is hit.

“Come on, come on, come on, can you go fast please,” one of the passengers yelled repeatedly, according to the video.

As he accelerates, the driver informs Lyft’s emergency team through the rideshare app, as he’s been trained to do, Greening said. ” Help me. Call the police, ”he told a security guard.

“You can actually see in this video that my client is on the phone,” Greening said. “Thinking quickly, he took his training from Lyft to immediately contact their emergency hotline so that authorities could be notified and the vehicle could be tracked, so help provided.”

As the driver continues to move forward, the SUV continues to follow him.

“Eventually he arrives at his destination with the passengers in his car, hoping and believing the police will be there to wait for him,” Greening said.

But there are no police in the 6500 block of South King Drive. The passengers get out of his car, then two or three men punch the driver again and again before he can accelerate with the windows smashed and his face badly beaten.

Greening said one of the passengers may also have been involved.
Police confirmed they were investigating the shooting and beatings, but gave no further details.

Greening said Lyft never notified police on its own, and the company offered no assistance for driver injuries or damage to his car.

“The dash cam footage is Exhibit A on how rideshare companies fail their drivers,” Greening said. “Lyft promised there were systems in place to protect drivers from violent attack, but when the going was going, our client dodged bullets and got punched in the face.”

Greening said his client intended to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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Jon J. Epps