Uber passenger who coughed on driver faces up to 16 years in jail

Harriet Brewis
Thursday 18 March 2021 11:55
news

The Uber passenger who horrified social media after she was filmed coughing at and attacking her driver could face up to 16 years behind bars.

Arna Kimiai, 24, was filmed tearing off her mask, coughing, and swearing at driver Subhakar Khandka, 32, before seizing his phone.

Kimiai finally handed herself into police on Sunday as fury over the incident continued to mount.

A video of the violent encounter, posted to Twitter on March 9, has since been viewed more than 3.5 million times.

On Wednesday, the 24-year-old was charged on multiple counts, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office told local media.

The include two felonies – attempted robbery and assault on a hired transportation driver – as well as lesser charges including violation of a Covid-19 health order, CBS Bay Area reported.

If convicted on all counts, she could face $3,000 in fines and up to 16 years in state prison.

WARNING: This video contains offensive language

The recording of the incident, which occurred on March 7, shows Kimiai saying “f*** the mask,” before reaching forward to grab Mr Khandka’s phone and yelling: “What you gonna do?”

She continues to scream and swear at him, while sitting beside her two friends in the back of the car, as he tells her: “You don’t touch my property. You didn’t buy it, I bought it, I worked hard for it.”

Days after police launched an investigation, Kimiai’s lawyer Seth Morris confirmed that she had handed herself in “peacefully” to San Francisco Police of her own volition at around 7 pm on Sunday.

“Ms. Kimiai acted appropriately and responsibly when she found out she had a warrant for her arrest, coordinating her peaceful surrender through her legal counsel and the SFPD,” Mr Morris said in a statement.

Fellow rider Malaysia King, also 24, has also been arrested for her aggression towards Mr Khandka.

In the video, she can also be seen coughing, shouting and laughing and the 32-year-old as he attempts to defend himself against his unruly passengers.

After the camera stopped, King allegedly reached into the window and sprayed what is believed to have been pepper spray into the car.

She was arrested on March 11 on a number of charges for assault with a caustic chemical, assault and battery. The third suspect has not yet been publicly identified.

Mr Khadka later said in an interview that Kimiai “started taunting me, cursing me, questioning me about being a man”.

He added: “The ladies were even talking about shooting me, calling their cousins to shoot me. They were making fun of my race."

All this, he said, because he had pulled over and asked all three passengers to wear their masks.

A GoFundMe page has since been set up for Mr Khandka to support him during time off work, as he works through his trauma from the ordeal.

Uber handed him a meagre $120 in compensation for the incident. The online fundraiser has so far raised more than $100,000.

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