Newport man pleads guilty to hitting Uber driver in attack recorded on video

A Newport Beach man was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in Orange County Jail for striking an Uber driver last year in an altercation recorded on the driver's dashboard camera and posted online.

Benjamin Golden, 33, pleaded guilty Thursday in Orange County Superior Court to a misdemeanor count of battery on a taxi driver. In addition to his jail sentence, Golden will spend the next three years on informal probation and was ordered to pay restitution, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Golden was originally charged with and pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor counts, including assault on a public transportation worker, battery on a public transit employee, assault and battery. The reduced charge was a result of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Golden was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 30, 2015, at a Costa Mesa shopping center where his Uber driver, Edward Caban, had parked in order to get Golden out of the car, police said at the time.

Caban told police that Golden, who was in the back seat, hit him repeatedly and pulled his hair, prompting him to pepper-spray Golden, authorities said. Caban shared video of the incident with police and posted a clip on YouTube showing what he said were the final minutes of the ride.

Police said Caban had picked up Golden in a parking lot on the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach and that Golden appeared to be intoxicated.

In the video, Golden argues with Caban about directions. The driver eventually pulls into the parking lot of a shopping center in the 1800 block of Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa, where Golden is seen falling over in his seat.

The two continue to argue and Caban orders Golden out of the car. Golden refuses to leave and asks Caban to take him to Park Newport, an apartment complex near Jamboree Road.

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

Golden opens the back door, then repeatedly strikes Caban, shouting expletives at him and pulling his hair. Caban then pepper-sprays him.

Golden's employer, Irvine-based Taco Bell, said soon after the incident that Golden was no longer working as a corporate manager for the company.

He also was banned from using Uber.

In December, Golden sued Caban for $5 million, claiming the recording had been made without his consent and caused him severe emotional distress, humiliation, anxiety, the loss of his employment and the inability to get another job, according to court documents.

Caban had sued Golden in November, claiming assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress and seeking $1.6 million, according to a statement of damages provided to the Los Angeles Times by Golden's attorneys.

Both lawsuits were dismissed in July, according to court records.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN

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