California Uber driver charged with kidnapping passengers

A California Uber driver was arrested Wednesday after his passengers told police he threatened to kidnap them and would not let them out of the vehicle.

Kaled Elasyedsa Ali, 35, of Anaheim, is charged with kidnapping and felony evading arrest, according to the Santa Monica Police Department. He was being held Thursday in lieu of $100,000 bail.

>> Related story: Uber driver charged with kidnapping after rider jumps from moving car, police say

Police officials said that the first 911 call came from a female victim around 6:43 p.m., at which time she said her driver was refusing to stop and let her out. At that point, the car was in the area of Santa Monica Boulevard and 23rd Street.

While officers were responding, three additional 911 calls were received reporting similar accounts of an Uber driver, possibly the same driver.

"All of those victims involved were able to exit the vehicle unharmed and reported that the suspect may have been armed with a handgun and had threatened to kidnap the victims," a news release from the police department said.

A short time later, officers spotted Ali’s vehicle and tried to conduct a traffic stop. Ali failed to stop and fled from the officers with two passengers -- a man and a woman -- still in the car, police officials said.

"A vehicle pursuit ensued and assistance was requested from the Los Angeles Police Department Air Support," the news release said. "During the pursuit, both passengers/victims were able to jump out of the moving vehicle, suffering minor injuries."

Santa Monica fire medics responded to the scene and treated the victims' scrapes and bruises. Ali was eventually stopped in the area of Montana Avenue and Bundy Drive and taken into custody, authorities said.

A similar incident took place in Tallahassee, Florida, in September, when Uber driver Destiny Racquel Green allegedly refused to let a female passenger out of her vehicle. In that case, the victim, who identified herself on social media as 19-year-old college student Brooke Adkins, was able to jump from a window of Green's car.

Officers responding to a 911 call found Adkins in a Walgreens parking lot, scraped and bloody.

Green, 30, is charged with kidnapping to commit or facilitate a felony and false imprisonment. She was released from the Leon County Jail on Oct. 2, but jail records show she was booked back into the facility three days later.

Court records available online do not indicate why she was booked again. They show that Green was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Green's mother told 10News in Tampa in September that her daughter, who has schizophrenia, should not have been allowed to drive for Uber. Iris Grice told the news station that when she spoke to her daughter two weeks before her arrest, she was not taking her medication.

Grice said she called police, seeking to have her daughter picked up on a psychiatric hold.

"I told them I was terrified that she might hurt herself or hurt somebody driving," Grice told 10News.

Credit: Leon County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Leon County Sheriff's Office

Officers told Grice her daughter did not meet the criteria under the Baker Act, which allows authorities to hold someone they believe to be a danger to themselves or others, the news station reported.

Court records show that after her arrest, Green was ordered by the court to continue taking her medication and to see a doctor. She was also ordered to no longer drive for Uber.

The company told Buzzfeed News at the time that Green had been removed from the app and that they were cooperating with police.

Uber in May launched a new safety feature that allows passengers to call 911 directly from the app. It is designed to show a passenger's exact location to share with dispatchers, as well as the driver's name, make and model of vehicle and license plate number.

When Uber announced the pilot program in April, company officials said they were developing a similar safety feature for drivers. 

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