An Uber driver shot and killed a new Mexico passenger on St Patrick’s Day during a heated argument over ‘a large amount of vomit’ in the car, prosecutors said in newly filed documents.
Court papers submitted by the Bernalillo County district attorney last week said the vomit and a dispute over a cleanup fee led to the fatal shooting of James Porter.
Police say driver Clayton Benedict killed Porter, 27, after stopping along a highway in Albuquerque on March 17.
More than three months later, Benedict has not been charged in the slaying.
A charging decision may come in the next few weeks, district attorney spokesman Michael Patrick told Albuquerque Journal.
‘Prosecutors are currently going over hundreds of documents and videos,’ Patrick said.
Benedict picked up Porter and his boyfriend from a bar on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, according to a search warrant affidavit seeking details from Uber about Benedict’s trips and other information.
The boyfriend, Jonathan Reyes, later told police the two had been at the bar since 2pm and although he typically doesn’t drink, he had six or seven drinks that day.
Benedict – who had been driving for Uber for a year and a half while also working as a photographer – told detectives they were traveling south on Interstate 25 when Reyes threw up in the backseat.
‘At this point, the other passenger and Clayton start to go back and forth about a potential “clean-up fee,”‘ the detective wrote in the affidavit. ‘James is the male arguing/pleading with Clayton not to charge him for a “clean-up fee.”‘
That’s when Benedict said he pulled over and asked the men to get out of the car. He said he ended the ride and gave Porter a review of ‘one star.’ He said Porter slammed the door, threw his sunglasses and hat at the driver, and the two argued outside the car.
Benedict said Porter was yelling and moved toward the open driver’s side door, threatening to run Benedict over with his own car. Benedict said he fired ‘an unknown amount of rounds’ toward Porter.
The 27-year-old passenger collapsed to the ground with two gunshot wounds under his left armpit, which proved fatal.
Porter’s family sued Uber and Benedict last month, writing in the complaint that the driver’s ‘actions were intentional, reckless and malicious such that an award of punitive damages against Benedict is justified.’
The San Francisco-based Uber told the newspaper in a statement that Benedict no longer has access to the Uber app as a driver.
Porter was a graduate of New Mexico State University who worked as an account manager at Hewlett Packard at the time of his death.
According to his obituary, Porter is survived by his partner, his parents, step-parents and four siblings.
Last year, an Uber driver in Denver was charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a passenger on a Colorado highway.
Police have said driver Michael Hancock, 29, shot and killed Hyun Kim, 45, following an altercation in the car. Hancock’s family has said he only shot in self-defense.
Credits: Daily Mail