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Lyft Passenger David Ortiz Expresses Regret Over His Racial Rant Against Black Driver, Loses Job

A drunken Lyft passenger wants folks to know he’s not a racist, despite now-viral video of him cursing and berating his Black driver from the backseat.

The video, posted earlier this month, shows rider David Ortiz accusing driver Shawn Letterman of racial discrimination and threatening to have him fired, all because Letterman refused to change the music in his car. Ortiz told New York’s PIX 11 the incident happened in August after a night out drinking with friends.

Lyft Passenger Rant

Robert Ortiz says his drunken words toward Lyft driver Shawn Letterman do not reflect his true feelings. (PIX 11 / video screenshot)

“At the end of the day, my actions were unjustifiable,” he told the station. “There’s nothing I can say behind that to say, ‘but this.’ No. I was drinking. A lot of the stuff I said, I didn’t even remember until the next day.”

“My actions were completely wrong,” he added. “I wouldn’t want anyone to be spoken to the way that I spoke to him.”

Recalling the incident, Ortiz said the exchange began when he asked Letterman if he could change the music they were listening to. Letterman told him the radio was broken, but his passenger didn’t believe him.

“I bet if I was Black, and like Black Lives Matter, he would change the radio,” he says in the filmed tirade. “Your driver, I guess assumed because of the color of my complexion was not Black, that I asked for music and it was a problem!”

Ortiz explained that he and Letterman began arguing back and forth, “And he was like, ‘The radio is broken,’ and I’m looking at him like, ‘No, it’s not.’ And I started pointing at the radio like, ‘It’s not broken.'”

The New York man said he felt he and his friends were mistreated because of their ethnicity and sexual orientation.

“I’m Puerto Rican,” he told the station. “I’m from the Bronx. I’m gay. Like, we know discrimination. You just smell it in the air. You know when someone is uncomfortable around you.”

Despite his drunken words, Ortiz insists he’s not a racist and says that’s not the way he was raised. He’s since posted a video on YouTube apologizing for his actions.

“I didn’t have anything deep or anything in the back of my mind,” he says in the video. “It was not like that. It was just things that I said because I felt just some sort of way at that moment.

According to PIX 11, the viral rant has cost Ortiz his job with CityMD and Lyft has banned him for life.

Ortiz said he’s also received countless hateful messages since the video went viral and now has no way of providing for his family. He says he doesn’t want pity, however, but simply wants to put the ordeal behind him.

As for Letterman, the Lyft driver has since launched a GoFundMe page that has amassed over $40,000. He explained that Lyft suspended his account pending an investigation into the incident and he needed money to cover his expenses.

Watch more in the clip below.

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