A Southern California Uber rider who pummeled a driver in an attack caught on camera over the weekend in Newport Beach has been identified as a corporate executive at Taco Bell and fired from his post, according to the restaurant.
"Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us," a Taco Bell corporate spokesperson said. "We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help."
Costa Mesa police arrested Benjamin Golden, 32, on assault charges and public intoxication in connection with the attack.
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Golden was Taco Bell’s mobile experience and innovation lead, and worked for Yum Brands for seven years, according to an online bio discovered by CNBC.
He did not respond to phone messages, and took down his Twitter page.
The exchange that precipitated Golden's arrest was captured on dashcam video and posted to YouTube by Uber driver Edward Caban. The footage apepars to show Caban spraying Golden with Mace after Golden allegedly smacks the driver in the head and pulls his hair.
"He was grabbing my head and was trying to smash it against the window," Caban told NBC4 in an interview.
Caban said it all began when he went to pick up an "incredibly intoxicated" man near Baja Sharkeez on the Balboa Peninsula.
He explained that the passenger did not give him an address, and said he would direct him to the destination instead of using GPS to get there.
Caban said the passenger faded in and out of consciousness and refused to wear a seat belt. Video shows Caban making a turn and the rider falling flat in the back seat.
In the footage, Caban tells the man the ride is over, and grabs a can of Mace concealed near his thigh. After Caban pulls into a well-lit shopping center and tells the man to get out, the customer insists Caban continue driving.
Caban can be heard on video saying he will call the police if the man does not exit the car. The customer then begins beating Caban over the head and pulling his hair while cursing at him.
Caban reacts, spraying Mace in the man's face.
Costa Mesa police responded within minutes to the scene of the fight in the 1800 block of Newport Beach Boulevard.
Golden was still vomiting from the Mace when officers arrived, according to police.
"I wanted to make sure he didn't get away," Caban said. "I have lost so much money on people like him and I'm done dealing with it. They take the food right out of my mouth."
Uber said it has banned the rider from ever using the ride-sharing platform again in addition to Taco Bell firing Golden.
Caban said Uber offered to reimburse him for cleaning the pepper spray from his car. Nonetheless, he said his days as an Uber driver are over.
"I don't feel safe driving for Uber any more," Caban said. "The quality of the passengers has gone down over the last couple of weeks and I know a lot of drivers will agree with me."