Man Attacks Florida Lyft Driver Over COVID-19 Plastic Barrier, Police Say

A man in Florida has been arrested on suspicion of attacking his Lyft driver after allegedly becoming frustrated with the plastic sheet installed in the vehicle to help protect against the coronavirus.

Travis Smith, 36, was arrested by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office after deputies were called to reports of people fighting on the street.

When deputies arrived at the intersection of Belle Terre Parkway and Royal Palm Parkway, in the early hours of Sunday morning, they found Smith on top of the driver and "restricting his movement."

After being separated by police, Smith claimed that he, his friend and the friend's 7-year-old child were traveling home from Flagler Beach to Rockne Lane when the Lyft driver started "driving recklessly."

Smith claimed he grabbed the driver and forced him to pull over for their safety, and then they started fighting each other on the street.

The Lyft driver told police that Smith had suddenly attacked him while unprovoked.

"Deputies reviewed the dash camera footage that captured the interior of the vehicle and saw the events matched exactly as the Lyft driver had described," the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Footage showed that Smith, who police say was "visibly intoxicated," was in the back seat of the car with the friend and young child when he started asking the driver about the plastic protective sheet.

During the conversation, Smith asked the driver if he put up the sheet in the back of the vehicle himself before accusing him of being a "liar" as he has seen similar set ups in other cars.

A light then turns on in the vehicle and a beeping noise can be heard, prompting the driver to ask if the passengers have opened a door.

"Nope, nobody has opened the door," Smith responded.

A short while later, Smith is seen pulling down the plastic sheet and grabbing the driver from behind as the other passenger flees with the child.

Smith then also runs out of the vehicle. The Lyft driver suffered minor injuries as a result of the attack, including a bruise on the side of his forehead.

Smith was arrested and charged with battery and child abuse, due to putting the 7-year-old life's in jeopardy during the attack in a moving vehicle.

He was booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility and released after posting a $7,500 bond.

"This was a very dangerous situation for not only the people inside the vehicle but for the other motorists on the roadway," Sheriff Rick Staly said. "This drunk attacked an innocent driver and put numerous lives in danger.

"These rider-share services can quickly become dangerous and drivers should be cautious of who they let in their vehicle. Thankfully the video recording device captured the entire incident and he went to jail."

In a statement to Newsweek, a Lyft spokesperson said: "The health and safety of our community is fundamental to Lyft, and the incident described is deeply troubling.

"We have removed the rider from the Lyft community and stand ready to work with law enforcement."

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The Lyft logo is displayed on a car on March 7, 2019 in San Francisco, California. A man in Florida has been arrested on suspicion of attacking his Lyft driver after becoming angry at a plastic sheet installed to help protect against COVID-19. Justin Sullivan/Getty