Taco Bell says Uber rider arrested in attack on driver 'can no longer work for us'

The Orange County man arrested this weekend on suspicion of assaulting his Uber driver is no longer working as a corporate manager for Taco Bell, the company said Monday.

Benjamin Golden, 32, of Newport Beach was taken into custody Friday night and booked on misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and assaulting a taxicab operator, Costa Mesa police Sgt. Jerry Souza said.

Golden's driver posted dashboard camera images of the alleged attack on YouTube, where it has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

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In a statement provided to The Times, Taco Bell Corp. said that Golden had worked as a marketing manager for the Irvine-based company.

"Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us. We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help," the company said in the statement.

Golden was arrested near Costa Mesa shopping center, where his driver had parked in order to kick him out of the car, Souza said.

The driver, Edward Caban, told police that Golden repeatedly hit him and pulled his hair, prompting him to respond by pepper-spraying the passenger. He shared video of the incident with police.

Caban posted a clip on YouTube showing what he said were the final minutes of the ride, and Souza verified that the online video is the same video that police reviewed.

In the video, the passenger argues with Caban over directions.

The driver eventually pulls into the parking lot of a shopping center in the 1800 block of Newport Boulevard, where the altercation occurred. As Caban turns into the parking lot, the passenger is seen falling over in his seat.

The two men continue to argue and Caban orders the passenger out of the car. The dispute escalates, and the passenger refuses to leave.

“Get out of my car or I will call the police,” Caban says.

The passenger opens his door, then begins to repeatedly strike the driver, shouting expletives at him and pulling his hair. Caban then pepper-sprays the man.

Police were called shortly after 8 p.m., officials said. Golden was released from custody with a written promise to appear in court, Souza said. Police are still reviewing the incident and plan to submit charges this week to the Orange County district attorney's office, he added.

Golden could not be reached for comment. He has been permanently banned from using the transit service, Uber spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said Sunday night.

She said Uber officials have been in contact with Caban and that the company is glad he is “doing OK.” She declined to comment on whether Uber drivers typically utilize dash cameras or whether the company encourages drivers to carry pepper spray.

Caban told KNBC-TV Channel 4 that the attack has made him want to stop working as an Uber driver.

"I wanted to make sure he didn't get away," Caban said. "I have lost so much money on people like him and I'm done dealing with it. They take the food right out of my mouth."

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno

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UPDATE

6:53 p.m.: This story was updated with confirmation that Taco Bell had fired Benjamin Golden.

This story was originally published at 4 a.m.

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