Trump Supporter Fired From Job After Video of Him Berating Black Lyft Driver Goes Viral

lyft driver robert ortiz shawn pepas lettman
Robert Ortiz (left) had his Lyft account permanently disabled after a video of him berating driver Shawn Pepas Lettman (right) went viral. Shawn Pepas Lettman

A self-proclaimed supporter of President Donald Trump was fired from his job at CityMD after a video of him berating his Lyft driver over an alleged disagreement over music went viral.

Shawn Pepas Lettman, a driver for Lyft, posted a 16-minute video of the incident, which occurred in New York City, on Facebook. Lettman began recording after the initial argument occurred; he had already pulled over to the side of the road.

When the video began, the passenger, identified as Robert Ortiz, was sitting in the back seat with two other men as he spoke with an emergency dispatcher on the phone. Throughout the video, Ortiz stated that he was being charged $8.01 and had no plans of leaving until the situation was resolved.

"I feel racially profiled ... because I'm not black," Ortiz told the dispatcher. "I don't want to hang up with you for my safety."

After a few minutes, the two other men in the car asked if Lettman refused to change the music because they were gay. "He knows he's f**ked up," one of the passengers said in reference to Lettman.

"I'm gonna make sure while you're recording this that you never have a job as a Lyft driver ever again," Ortiz told Lettman. "I'm going to make sure that you never have a job as a f**king driver again. You piece of s**t."

Ortiz also called Lyft and claimed that Lettman wouldn't acquiesce to his music request because he didn't appear to be black.

"I'm not being racist, your gentleman is being racist," Ortiz told the person on the other end of the line. "I came out of a gay club, and your driver is racist against gay people."

Ortiz repeatedly threatened Lyft with a lawsuit and said he would not get out of the vehicle until he was reimbursed for his ride. He added that he intended to wait for the police to arrive so he could file a report.

"I'm telling you that I called the police to protect myself because I know my legal rights as an American citizen … an American citizen that voted for Trump," Ortiz told the Lyft employee.

After about 10 minutes, the conversation took a turn for the worse and Ortiz began inserting the N-word and gay slurs into his comments while FaceTiming someone else.

"Tell me why I'm in a Lyft and the n***a fucking pulled over …We're waiting for the police because this f****t charged me," Ortiz stated. "All that black lives matter is bulls**t … F**k black lives matter, every life matters."

Based on Ortiz's numerous phone calls, the confrontation began over his request for a change in the music Lettman selected, which led to Lettman pulling the car over.

Ortiz repeatedly claimed that Lettman was illegally recording him. However, New York is a "one-party consent" state, meaning only one person in a conversation needs to give consent to be recorded.

Throughout the video, Lettman simply stared straight ahead at the camera, except for one comment.

"Could I say one thing?" Lettman asked Ortiz. "There's a sign right there that says you will be recorded."

Following the incident, Lyft told Newsweek that both Ortiz and Lettman's accounts had been deactivated until an investigation could be conducted. After a review of accounts from all sides, Lyft reactivated Lettman's account and permanently disabled Ortiz's.

"The behavior exhibited in the video is deeply concerning. Lyft is committed to maintaining an inclusive and welcoming community and discriminatory behavior is unacceptable," Lyft stated. "We have also reached out to Mr. Lettman to express our support."

Viewers applauded Lettman for remaining calm during the altercation, and he wrote on a GoFundMe page that his mother taught him that "patience, humble and calm will get you through anything."

He said that after the recording ended, he also called the police to express his own concerns over what might have happened if he hadn't been assisted.

"I know America is better than this and despite the hate we have to deal with from a few, my heart tells me, the world is mostly good," Lettman wrote.

Many Facebook users expressed their outrage over Ortiz's behavior and, since he described himself as an employee of CityMD, asked about his employment. In several different responses to comments about the video, CityMD explained that the company did not "condone this kind of behavior in any way."

"CityMD exists to build healthier and kinder communities," the company stated on Facebook. "This behavior does not represent the values of our team or the values we hold dear."

CityMD added that Ortiz was no longer affiliated with the company.