Man Posing As Uber Driver Arrested On Sexual Abuse Charges

On Monday, Police Chief Charlie Beck announced that Westlake area police arrested a man who pretended to be an Uber driver and brutally sexually assaulted a young woman.

Dartanyum Lamar Smith, 39, was arrested in a South Los Angeles home on Saturday morning on suspicion of kidnapping, reports KTLA 5 News.

Around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 3, LAPD receives a call about a woman screaming from the inside of an SUV in the area of Ingraham Street and 1300 block.

The woman entered the vehicle with “trepidation,” Beck said. The driver traveled about two blocks east of the pick-up location at 8th Street and Vermont Avenue and sexually assaulted her, Beck said.

“He took her about two blocks east where he sexually assaulted her, choked her unconscious at least three times,” Beck said. “The neighbors — hearing her screams because she fought valiantly — called the Los Angeles Police Department.”

Police were not given an exact address but combed the block and heard the screams coming from inside the SUV. Police attempted to enter the vehicle but the doors were locked. Once police began to smash the windows in, Smith jumped into the driver’s seat and proceeded to speed away, striking one of the officers with the vehicle door and resulting in one shot being fired into the vehicle, missing the suspect.

“They ran to save her. They saw the assault occurring in the backseat of the car… They smashed the windows out with their batons,” Beck said.

According to FOX 11 News, the victim managed to escape a few blocks away. She was found on the ground.

The victim was waiting for an Uber pick up called in by one of her friends early on April 3 in the Westlake area when the man pulled up and asked if she was waiting for an Uber driver.

Beck reports that the woman was strangled and unconscious at least three times throughout the attack, but that she “valiantly” fought against her attacker.

Police Cars
[Photo Credit Nick Ut / AP Images]

Smith was taken into custody on suspicion of kidnapping and is being held on a $1 million bail.

“I can’t remember another one where someone pretended to be Uber, but they were not,” Beck said after he was asked whether investigators encountered similar cases.

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DNA taken from a sexual assault kit, scrapings from the victim, and CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) identified the suspect. ABC 7 News reports that LAPD’s Forensic Service Division and the FBI assisted the Robbery-Homicide Division in the investigation.

“We hope that everybody in the city of Los Angeles and anybody who would prey on Angelenos will know today that this city will answer the call, that our police department will bring you to justice and make sure that you are behind bars,” Mayor Eric Garcetti stated in a press conference early Monday morning, offering the victim his condolences.

Uber was cooperative in the investigation and gives it’s customer the license plate of the driver, a description of the vehicle, and in some cases a picture of the driver.

Garcetti and Beck also pushed the importance of using ride-hailing apps such as Uber.

“We believe that he guessed based on her actions, standing at a street corner in the early-morning hours, that she was waiting for a ride, and he guessed Uber,” Beck said.

[Photo Credit Ted S. Warren/AP Images]