A former Taco Bell marketing employee seen in a widely viewed dashboard camera video attacking an Uber driver in Costa Mesa last fall after a night of drinking admitted a battery charge Thursday and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Benjamin Allen Golden, who lost his job amid widespread publicity about the attack, was also placed on three years of informal probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of battery on a taxi driver.
Misdemeanor counts of battery against a transportation worker, assault and battery were dismissed as part of the plea deal, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Golden, 33, had called for an Uber ride on Oct. 30, 2015, because he had been drinking at a pre-Halloween celebration.
Defense attorney Courtney Pilchman was not immediately available for comment, but she previously said her client quickly publicly apologized to the 24-year-old driver, Edward Caban.
Caban said last year that he had to quit his job and move out of state because he was so upset about the conflict. He also said that he put a camera with a GPS function in his vehicle after consulting with other Uber drivers, who complained that some customers lie about problems to get refunds or are too drunk to give proper instructions.
The camera usually faces forward, but Caban swung it around the night of the run-in with Golden, according to his attorney, Rivers Morrell III.
“… he saw this thing starting to escalate,” Morrell said previously. “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.”
Golden only remembered being arrested, Pilchman said last November.
“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.”
The assault happened about 8:10 that night in Costa Mesa. The video shows Caban being struck numerous times, 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, but struggled to tell Caban where he wanted to go, Scott said. Caban eventually stopped in a parking lot at 1835 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa and told him to get out, and 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.
Caban — acting in self-defense — pepper-sprayed Golden, Scott said.
–City News Service
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