An Uber passenger has been arrested and charged after a Black Uber driver reported an attack that left damage to his vehicle.
Uber driver Abdelkadre Khamis Ahmat and the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) shared the video of the encounter from May 28 at a news conference on Tuesday, June 8. The footage shows 60-year-old Michael Winterman calling Ahmat the N-word and telling him he hopes he gets shot following confusion over finding the passenger’s address in Cincinnati after Ahmat’s GPS stopped working.
According to court documents, Winterman “was attempting to start a fight while he was highly intoxicated and damaged Ahmat’s car “in a fit of rage.” Following the incident, Ahmat was fired from Uber but later reinstated after the drive-share company saw footage of the encounter.
CAIR-Ohio staff attorney Lina Abbaoui said in a press release that Ahmat, a Chad native, should not have been fired following an incident during which he was victimized. “As the victim, he should be supported rather than punished,” she said, adding that Winterman should face hate crimes charges.
Following the news conference, Uber released a statement saying it was the first they’d seen of the video. “This is the first we’ve seen of the video, and what is shown is appalling and unacceptable. Violence and discrimination have no place on the Uber platform. We’ve been attempting to reach out to the driver to get more information since the incident was first reported to us last month. We are reactivating the driver’s account and the rider has been banned from Uber.” Uber also said its policy is to suspend both the driver and passenger during an investigation.
On May 27, Ahmat was taking Winterman to his home from a Covington, Kentucky, bar when he asked the passenger to clarify his address after Ahmat’s GPS failed to display it.
“We are in your neighborhood, tell me where to go,” Ahmat said.
In response, Winterman said he was going to call 911.
“Sir, call them, call them,” Ahmat replied.
“He does not know where the hell he is,” Winterman told the 911 operator.
“Um…OK,” the operator replied.
“He is threatening me and I’m not getting out unless I know where I’m at in the neighborhood,” Winterman continued.
“No one is threatening you. You are intoxicated,” Ahmat said.
After Winterman hung up with 911, he told Ahmat, I hope to hell you get shot,” adding “n-gger!” before exiting the vehicle. Winterman then began to hit Ahmat’s vehicle. When Ahmat exited the video the recording ended, but according to the driver’s recollection of events, Winterman told him to remember “you are Black and I am white,” then punched him in the shoulder. Then, Winterman fell and began wiping blood on Ahmat’s car before police eventually arrived on the scene.
Winterman told WLWT he had not fallen but was punched and left with multiple broken bones. He also said he suffers from Tourette’s syndrome and had no control over what he was saying in his explanation of the racial slur. He was dropped off about a block from his home.
Ahmat said he provided Uber with a copy of the footage the next day but that his access to the Uber app was removed.
In addition to the calls for Ahmat to be reinstated, CAIR-Ohio is also demanding that Uber provide monetary compensation for work time lost and damages and take steps to protect drivers, “after a larger trend of xenophobic and racist attacks against Black people.”
Winterman has been charged with one count of ethnic intimidation, disorderly conduct and criminal damaging. He was arrested and his bond was set at $26,000 during a June 10 hearing in a Cincinnati court.