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Video captures Florida Uber driver attacked after passenger wouldn't put seat belt back on

Posted at 4:27 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 18:14:08-04

Video captured a Florida Uber driver being attacked while driving after asking a passenger to put their seat belt back on over the weekend.

A spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department said Taylor Richards, 29, was arrested for battery after punching the driver in the head and shoulder.

The driver, Joe Leone, said he picked up the rider from St. Pete beach to take him to South Tampa -- but towards the end of the ride, he says he was attacked.

Leone said Richards took off his seat belt after they got off the interstate, and the passenger became upset after he asked him to put it back on. The Uber driver said he's done 8,400 trips in the past four years, and recently installed a camera for safety.

Leone said he only turns it on if he feels uncomfortable in the car.

Richards is shown in the video first petting the driver's shoulder, before being asked to stop.

Following that, 30 seconds later, Richards jumps over to the driver's side while Leone was driving to attack him.

Richards was in the front seat, something that Uber advises against so both drivers and passengers have their own personal space.

In this case, Leone was glad he was directly next to the rider, "if he was in the back seat, maybe it wouldn’t have gotten as far as it did, but if it did, how much control would I have had with him behind me," he said.

According to an arrest report, police don't know why Richards began hitting Leone, but it appears he was intoxicated.

After the attack, Leone pulled over to call 911 -- in the process, Richards took off walking.

A Tampa police officer found Richards at the intersection of Main Street and Armenia Avenue.

That officer wrote in the report that the suspect refused to verbally identify himself and had no identification.

He was arrested for battery and resisting an officer without violence.

A spokesperson for Uber sent the following statement:

"We are upset about this driver’s experience and have been in touch with him to offer our support. Violence is not tolerated on the Uber app, and we immediately removed the rider’s access when this was reported to us.”

Uber has safety tips posted on their website here.