A Black former Lyft driver is recovering after she was attacked and robbed in Cleveland, Ohio, by two passengers last month.
Cynthia Norman said she picked up a pair of male passengers on the morning of Jan. 10 from an apartment complex before driving them to a dark, and “unusual” destination, according to ABC-affiliate News 5 Cleveland.
“It starts to get pitch black. It’s dark,” Norman said. “I asked them, ‘Is this where you want to be?’ And in my mind it’s dark. It looked like a factory. I already knew this was going to be some bull.”
The woman’s intuition was correct and the men then began to beat and punch her.
“The guy in the passenger seat says, ‘b***h, it’s a carjack.’ When he punched me in my face, the one that’s behind me, he grabbed me around my throat like this,” Norman said. “This one in the back is like, ‘Hey man. Why don’t you use the knife I gave you?’”
In self-defense, she said she scurried to grab her firearm from the armrest and was able to fire a few shots that scared them off.
“I just leaned on the armrest because my gun is in the armrest, but the idiots don’t know it’s in the armrest,” the woman said. “He walked back to the door again. I just opened up the thing, pulled my gun out, and just aimed toward the door and started shooting.”
After the attack, Norman drove herself to the closest Cleveland Police Department station and reported the carjacking attempt. Criminal defense lawyer Matt Bangerter said Norman shouldn’t be held liable for criminal charges for defending herself in the robbery.
“She does have the benefit of the Castle Doctrine and then Ohio just passed the ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law in December,” Bangerter said. “She’s certainly within her legal rights to defend herself if she’s being carjacked.”
However, Lyft officials confirmed that Norman was fired from the rideshare company for violating its no-weapons policy. According to its website, Lyft’s policy on weapons “applies when you are doing business as a representative of Lyft, which includes times that you are driving for Lyft, as well as times that you are visiting a Lyft Hub.”
It goes on to describe a weapon as “any form of firearm” and other items like stun guns, Tasers and knives.
In regards to its strict view on weapons, the ridesharing app said “we approach this from a community perspective. It’s hard to know what someone else is or isn’t comfortable with. The mere presence of a weapon might make another community member distressed and fear for his or her own personal safety.”
As of Wednesday, there have been no arrests made in the assault on Norman, News 5 reported. The former driver said policy changes need to be addressed to keep rideshare drivers safe.
“You want me to not carry a gun or mace or Taser? You want me to depend on you,” she said. “I’m going to do what I’ve got to do and if that means you want to deactivate me, so be it, but I’ve got to return home.”
According to local news station Cleveland 19 News, the attack on Norman was at least the third such assault in less than a month.
A week after Norman was attacked, another Lyft rideshare driver was ambushed by four college-aged passengers who dragged her out of the car, beat her and stole her wallet and cellphone.
Lyft told 19 News that it is working with law enforcement agencies to build upon safety features to keep drivers and riders as safe as possible.