Assault Captured on Video
An anti-masker who coughed on an Uber driver's face after ripping off his mask has been charged with attempted robbery and assault.
Arna Kimiai, 24, was taken into custody at the San Francisco County Jail on Sunday after handing herself in to authorities.
After her argument with driver Subhakar Khadka on 7 March, an arrest warrant was put out for robbery, assault and battery, conspiracy and violation of health and safety code.
She was charged with felony attempted robbery and assault on a hired transportation driver. She was also charged with misdemeanour battery on a transportation driver and violation of a Covid-19 health order.
Local news reports that robbery and conspiracy charges against her were dropped.
According to reports, Kimiai had decided to turn herself in a few hours after one of the other passengers, Malaysia King, 24, was caught in Las Vegas.
It's not been confirmed what the robbery charge is for just yet, but Kimiai's bond is set at $75,000 (£54,000). She has been released on bail, while she waits for her upcoming court date.
Footage of the incident, which soon went viral, shows a group of women arguing with the driver, before one of them, who turned out to be Kimiai, coughed on him on purpose.
Lt. Tracy McCray, who heads the San Francisco Police Department's robbery detail, said the 24-year-old's 'callous' behaviour would be met with justice.
Speaking before she had handed herself in, McCray said: "The behaviour captured on video in this incident showed a callous disregard for the safety and wellbeing of an essential service worker in the midst of a deadly pandemic."
A police statement said the Uber driver had picked up three female passengers at San Bruno Avenue and Felton Street at approximately 12.45pm.
"A few minutes later, the driver stopped the vehicle and ended the ride when he realized that one of the passengers was not wearing a mask in compliance with state and local public health orders for Covid-19," the statement explained.
"The driver said that he could not continue the fare unless all passengers were wearing their masks.
"An altercation ensued, largely captured on video, and one of the passengers reached over the driver from the rear seat area and stole the driver's cellphone.
"The victim grabbed and eventually regained possession of his phone. The suspects then exited the vehicle, and another passenger reached into an open window and sprayed what is believed to be pepper spray into the car towards the driver.
"The suspects fled the scene. SFPD's Robbery Unit took over the investigation and identified two suspects soon after, Ms. Kimiai and Ms. King.
"We take this conduct very seriously in San Francisco, and we're committed to ensuring that justice is done in this case."
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