DENVER — A local mother says her Lyft ride home turned into racial harassment and attempted kidnapping as the driver veered off the route.
The ride-share company has since fired the driver as police investigate.
On the night of Oct. 6, Lizbeth Ligon landed at Denver International Airport and ordered a Lyft to get home. She says she was looking forward to getting home to her kids.
“I pulled up my app, requested the ride,” Ligon said.
Ligon got into the Lyft while on the phone with a friend, but soon noticed something was off with her driver.
“He tilted his rear-view mirror down, so it was looking down on me directly,” Ligon said.
She says that made her uncomfortable but she stayed on the phone, until she says the driver gave an unprompted, racist outburst.
“He just shouted out in a very loud voice, he said, ‘You f—ing Mexican.’ And I was so stunned and I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And my friend on the phone said, ‘What did he just say?'”
Ligon says the driver then suddenly veered off Pena Boulevard and onto a side road that she didn’t recognize.
“I said, ‘Where are you going? I’ve never been taken home this way. What app are you using?'” Ligon said.
Ligon says the man answered with expletives and told her the ride would end on his terms. With that, she grabbed the car door to get out.
“I’ve never been in a situation where I felt so threatened. You’re alone in a vehicle, a moving vehicle at that, in the dark,” Ligon said.
Ligon says the driver slammed on the brakes and she was finally able to get out of the car.
“He was telling me I didn’t belong in this country, telling me I didn’t know how to speak English – he was just out of control,” Ligon said.
She says the driver turned off his headlights and then drove away. She called police. The Denver Police Department says this is an open and active investigation.
Meanwhile, Lyft has fired the driver.
“Lyft has a strict anti-discrimination policy and we are committed to maintaining an inclusive and welcoming community. The behavior described is completely at odds with our values as a company. We have permanently banned the driver from the Lyft platform, reached out to the passenger to offer our support, and reached out to law enforcement to assist with their investigation,” a Lyft spokesperson said.
But Ligon was told by a detective the man gave a fictitious address to Lyft and is proving hard to track down. She worries he could be driving for another company. Ultimately, she hopes others pay close attention while using ride-share apps.
“Be diligent. Monitor your surroundings. You could be chit-chatting on the phone and not even notice what someone is doing in the front seat or if they went off the route,” she said.
Ligon has obtained legal representation with The Fang Law Firm and plans to press charges against the driver.
“Lyft and Uber and similar services have become part of our normal, everyday life. With the amount of business these corporations generate comes a greater responsibility to protect its customers from potential threats, especially women and especially at night. We are exploring where Lyft fell short in screening the Defendant and will leave no stone unturned,” Ligon’s attorney, Remington Fang, said.