A former Taco Bell executive was charged Tuesday in connection with an assault on an Uber driver, who defended himself by dousing the suspect with pepper spray in Costa Mesa, authorities said.
Benjamin Golden, 32, of Newport Beach, faces four counts of assault, battery, battery on a public transit employee with injury and assault on public transportation property, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office. All charges are misdemeanors.
Golden, who is out of custody, could face a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted of the charges.
He is set to be arraigned Nov. 17. Prosecutors will be asking that bail be set at $20,000.
Golden was a marketing manager for Taco Bell, but the Irvine-based company said Monday he is no longer an employee.
“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.
Uber driver Edward Caban posted the dashboard camera video of the alleged attack on YouTube on Friday. The video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times.
Golden was taken into custody Friday night near a Costa Mesa shopping center in the 1800 block of Newport Boulevard after the attack, Costa Mesa police Sgt. Jerry Souza said.
Video shows Caban asking the passenger to get out of the car after the passenger appears to fall over on the rear seat.
“You are too drunk to give me directions,” Caban said.
The passenger responds, “I am giving you the directions right now.”
Caban tells the passenger the trip is over.
“Get out of my car or I will call the police,” he tells the passenger.
The passenger then opens the car door, turns around and strikes Caban several times.
Caban told police that Golden repeatedly hit him and pulled his hair, so he responded by dousing him with pepper spray. He shared video of the incident with police.
Golden has been permanently banned from using the transit service, Uber spokeswoman Kayla Whaling said.
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.”
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