Arna Kimiai, Woman Who Coughed on Uber Driver in Viral Video, Arrested

The woman who was seen coughing on an Uber driver in San Francisco has been arrested after a video of the incident went viral, garnering more than 12 million views.

Arna Kimiai, 24, turned herself in to authorities and was booked into the San Francisco County Jail on Sunday night.

A warrant for her arrest for charges of robbery, assault and battery, conspiracy, and violation of health and safety code, had been issued after an Uber driver reported he had been assaulted by two female passengers.

On the afternoon of March 7, at around 1.16 p.m., police were called to the intersection of San Bruno Avenue and Bacon Street.

Uber driver Subhakar Khadka, 32, said he picked up three passengers at around 12.45 p.m. A few minutes into the drive, the driver noticed a passenger was not wearing a mask and then stopped the car. Uber's policy is that both driver and riders must wear masks in compliance with state and local public health orders for COVID-19.

Arna Kimiai
Arna Kimiai, 24, the woman who was seen coughing on an Uber driver in San Francisco, turned herself in to police. SCREENGRAB FROM DASH CAMERA FOOTAGE

⚠️ 𝗪𝗔𝗥𝗡𝗜𝗡𝗚: 𝗘𝗫𝗣𝗟𝗜𝗖𝗜𝗧 𝗟𝗔𝗡𝗚𝗨𝗔𝗚𝗘 ⚠️ Uber driver Subhakar told me he picked up 3 women in the Bayview yesterday & after asking one to wear a mask was subject to slurs, taunting & one grabbing his phone.

He’s taking a few days off.

SFPD is investigating.

— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) March 9, 2021

The driver said that he could not continue the fare unless all passengers were wearing their masks, according to a statement released by the San Francisco Police Department.

An altercation ensued, captured on security camera, which showed Kimiai reaching over the driver from the rear passenger seat to take his cellphone. The victim grabbed and eventually regained possession of his phone.

The video also shows Kimiai shouting profanity and racial slurs at the driver, taking her mask off and purposefully coughing on him.

A 24-year-old woman, who has since been identified as Malaysia King, then says "and I've got corona" before shouting and laughing. Kimiai then grabs the driver's mask before he snatches it back off her. She then pulls the mask off the driver while recording it on her phone.

After the video recording stopped, the passengers exited the vehicle and King reached into the window to pepper spray the driver, before the three women fled the scene.

Video of the incident before the passengers left the car was shared on social media and has garnered millions of views on Twitter and has been retweeted more than 37,000 times.

Kimiai also uploaded a video of the incident to Instagram before the trio left the vehicle.

"Bro you are not letting us out in the middle of the freeway," one of the women is heard saying.

King was arrested by officers from the Las Vegas Police Department in connection with the incident on Thursday, March 11, the San Francisco Police Department said in a news release.

The 24-year-old was charged with assault with a caustic chemical, assault and battery, conspiracy, and violation of health and safety code.

Lieutenant Tracy McCray, head of the San Francisco Police Department's Robbery Detail, described the behavior as "a callous disregard for the safety and wellbeing" of the Uber driver.

"The behavior 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," McCray said. "We take this conduct very seriously in San Francisco, and we're committed to ensuring that justice is done in this case."

Uber has reportedly banned the women from using the ride-sharing app. "The behavior seen in the video is appalling. The rider no longer has access to Uber," an Uber spokesperson told ABC News. Rival ride-sharing app Lyft also banned the women from using their services.

However, in a video posted over Instagram on March 10, Kimiai defended her actions.

"Everybody I know - 75 percent of the people I know - would have smacked the s**t out of him or done some crazy off the wall s**t," Kimiai says. "All I did was take his mask off and cough a little bit but I don't even have corona."

According to Kimiai's recent Instagram stories as viewed by Newsweek, it appears the 24-year-old has bonded out of jail.

Newsweek has contacted the San Francisco Police Department for clarification and comment.

California anti-masker who coughed on a driver says she plans to sue Uber

— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) March 9, 2021

Uber initially gave Khadka $120 in order to clean his car and to compensate for his ordeal. However, Cyan Banister, an early investor in the ride hailing app, said the money "does not come close to the expenses needed to have a professional car detailing to try and remove the strong chemicals of pepper spray and also the lost wages from not being able to work."

Banister has since set up a GoFundMe page for Khadka, raising $95,875 for the Uber driver at the time of writing.

An Uber spokesperson told Newsweek: "We thank the San Francisco Police Department for their swift action. Uber does not tolerate racism or hate in any form, against any community. When one community is being attacked, we are all being attacked.

"We are shocked and saddened by the recent increase in anti-Asian hate, particularly when it affects a driver or rider. In this case, we have banned all three riders and have been in contact with Mr. Khadka to offer our support."

Newsweek has contacted Kimiai for comment.