Uber driver moving out of state and rejects attacker's apology
SANTA ANA, CA (CNS/FOX 11) - An Uber driver who posted dashboard-camera video of himself getting slapped and punched by a customer announced today that he was quitting his new job and moving out of state.
Edward Caban's attorney said his client is too distraught to remain in California. "The trauma of the assault has affected his ability to sleep at night and focus on tasks during the day," lawyer Rivers Morrell III said. "Mr. Caban has sought the assistance of professional counselors and has decided to remove himself and relocate to a place where there is greater support from friends and family."
The announcement he was leaving the state came a day after Caban, 23, said he would not accept Benjamin Allen Golden's apology. "I don't believe he is genuinely remorseful for his actions," Caban said. "Mr. Golden made the choices that led him to the back of my car, and he made the choice to assault me when I declared the ride to be over. If I had not recorded the attack on my dash cam I do not believe he would be taking the same position he seems to be taking today. Would he be taking these actions if there hadn't been criminal charges and my lawsuit against him?"
Morrell said that, "Mr. Golden's attorney and advisers may wish to walk all this back, but that isn't going to happen. My client has suffered physically and emotionally from this attack. He is having trouble sleeping, and rests with a weapon next to his bed. He has quit his work as an Uber driver. He is never willing to be put into that situation again. This has affected his physical and emotional well being, as well as his income and even his privacy."
Golden's attorney, Courtney Pilchman, said Wednesday that she was trying to arrange a meeting between the two so Golden could apologize to Caban personally. It does not appear that will happen now.
"He does not accept Mr. Golden's apology and has no desire or intention to meet with him to discuss it," Morrell said. Golden, 32, who worked in the marketing department of Taco Bell until he lost his job Monday over the Oct.30 incident, publicly apologized to Caban Wednesday.
Golden said he doesn't remember any of what happened, but acknowledges what he did. "I want to apologize. I wasn't in the right state," he said. "I'd like him to know that that's not me and that I'm sincerely sorry."
Caban put the camera in his vehicle after consulting with other Uber drivers, who have been complaining that some customers lie about problems to get refunds or are too drunk to give proper instructions, Morrell said.
Caban installed the camera with a GPS function to prove where he has driven his vehicle, his attorney said. The camera usually faces forward, but Caban swung it around the night of the run-in with Golden, the lawyer said.
"... he saw this thing starting to escalate," Morrell said. "That's why he turned it around, so he could document that this happened. Otherwise, it would be his word against someone else, so a lot of the drivers are starting to do this."
Pilchman said her client doesn't have a drinking problem, despite a prior arrest for drunken driving in Kentucky a few years ago. In fact, he called for a ride to be responsible because he was going to drink and celebrate Halloween, she said.
"He's not a big drinker, and so I guess he went out for Halloween festivities and he knew he was going to be drinking," Pilchman said. "But he doesn't have a consistent drinking pattern or habit. He's a social drinker who doesn't go out very often."
Golden only remembers being arrested, Pilchman said. "The only sort of recollection that he has is getting arrested, but he did watch the video and he was appalled at the behavior and did not recognize the behavior," she said.
"This was something beyond out of character for him. I've been with him for only a couple of days and he's very emotional about it because it's not who he is.
"He certainly wants to figure out why he did what he did. He'll go to counseling to figure out what happened because it's disturbing to him, but he has no history of aggressive behavior."
Golden has been charged with misdemeanor counts of assault, battery, battery on a public transit employee with injury and assault on public transportation property. He faces up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine if convicted.
Golden's public statement of apology was issued before he knew of Caban's lawsuit, which was filed in Orange County Superior Court and seeks unspecified damages, according to Pilchman.
"The reason for the statement is Mr. Golden really is very remorseful and wants to express that," Pilchman said. "We did not send out any press release to combat a lawsuit... I learned of the lawsuit this afternoon."
Golden, who is out of custody, is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 17. At the hearing, prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $20,000.
The alleged assault happened about 8:10 p.m. Friday in Costa Mesa, according to police. Caban is seen being struck numerous times in the video, but he did not need medical treatment, Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott said.
Golden had called for an Uber driver to pick him up from a Newport Beach bar. He struggled to tell Caban where he wanted to go, so Caban eventually stopped in a parking lot at 1835 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa and told him to get out, Scott said.
Golden "punched and slapped the side of the driver's face," the lieutenant said. On the video, Golden can be seen in the back seat of the car with the door open, but he leans forward and repeatedly hits the driver in the head, then grabs him by the hair and tries to slam his head into the driver's side door window.
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