An Uber Eats driver late on Saturday fatally shot a customer during delivery, who later died at the hospital. Initially, the Uber driver fled the scene, but he then turned himself in on Monday. Atlanta police said in a statement they had a warrant charging 36-year-old Robert Bivines with felony murder.
Bivines’ lawyer Jackie Patterson told WSBTV that his client “had no choice but to defend himself” when the victim, 30-year-old Ryan Thornton, became irate over the time it took for his food to arrive. The attorney added that Thornton was aggressive, and as Bivines walked away, Thornton made a threatening move.
“He turned around, put his hand in his pocket and said, ‘I’m going to (bleep) you up,'” Patterson said.
Bivines was apparently afraid to see what was in the customer’s pocket and he defended himself. When asked why his client didn’t drive away, Patterson said that “you can’t drive away when someone is coming at you with your window down.”
It’s unclear exactly what happened leading up to the shooting, but witnesses said that words were exchanged between the two men. Apparently, Bivines had only worked for Uber Eats for a few days before the incident took place, and he had passed a background check. He has never been a driver with Uber’s main taxi on demand service.
Uber prohibits drivers from carrying guns, but it’s unclear how the company is enforcing this policy, and whether it conducts any random checks. Since Uber’s drivers are so far removed from the company itself, it’s possible that Uber does little if anything to ensure that drivers are adhering to this particular policy.