Defense counsel for an Uber driver who allegedly refused to allow four passengers out of his vehicle on Halloween night in the Santa Monica area declared doubt Monday as to the defendant’s competence to stand trial on kidnapping and other charges.
Khaled Elsayedsa Ali, 35, pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon to four counts of kidnapping and one count of fleeing a pursuing police officer while driving recklessly, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Then his competency was called into question by his attorney, and his case was referred for a hearing in a mental health court. Ali, meanwhile, remains jailed in lieu of $475,000 bail.
Police received a 911 call about 6:45 p.m. on Halloween from a woman in the area of 23rd Street and Santa Monica Boulevard stating that Ali, of Garden Grove, refused to stop and let her out of the vehicle, according to a statement from the Santa Monica Police Department.
As officers were responding, three additional 911 calls were received from multiple alleged victims reporting similar incidents possibly involving the same suspect and vehicle, police said. Each reported the suspect may be armed with a gun and had threatened to kidnap them.
Officers located the vehicle and attempted to stop the driver, but the driver fled with two passengers in the car — a male and female — and led officers on a pursuit that ended near Montana Avenue and Bundy Drive. During the pursuit, the two passengers jumped out of the vehicle, and they were treated for scrapes and bruises, police said.
According to prosecutors, prior to the pursuit, Ali allegedly picked up a man who had called for a ride, then drove in the opposite direction and refused to let the passenger out of the car, but he managed to jump out. The defendant then picked up a female passenger, who also had to leap from the vehicle when Ali drove away from her destination, according to police and prosecutors.
Ali faces more than 23 years in prison if convicted as charged, prosecutors said.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: