A 35-year-old man accused of shooting and injuring his Uber driver near Seattle Center said he took seven or eight tequila shots before getting in the car, according to prosecutors.
Chad M. Strode has been charged with third-degree assault in the Tuesday shooting, which he told police was an accident, according to court documents. Strode is being held in the King County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Strode said his gun, which was in the waistband of his pants, discharged while he was getting out of the back seat of the car, according to a probable cause document. He said there was no disturbance between him and the driver. He called 911 to report the shooting at about 3:15 a.m.
In their bail request, prosecutors cited a “gross deviation from societal expectations for the level of care in handling loaded firearms.”
Strode had a valid concealed pistol license, according to police.
Strode told police he had been drinking in a Capitol Hill park before calling the Uber and that he “always carries a firearm,” according to the probable cause document. He said that on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most drunk he’d ever been, he was a seven, a county prosecuting attorney wrote in court documents.
When police arrived near Fourth Avenue and Mercer Street, Strode’s gun was on the roof of the driver’s Nissan Altima and Strode was kneeling in the street with his hands up, court documents say. The driver was conscious in the driver’s seat and knew he had been injured but did not know he had been shot. He thought something may have exploded in the car, according to the documents. Officers found a bullet hole in the driver’s seat and a gunshot wound to the driver’s back.
The 29-year-old driver was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he was in satisfactory condition Saturday, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The driver lost the pulse in his leg and underwent at least two surgeries, a county prosecuting attorney wrote Wednesday.
As ride-hailing apps such as Uber have become commonplace, the companies have faced scrutiny over working conditions and pay for drivers, who are classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. In 2017, Uber launched an optional insurance program for drivers in some states to cover injuries while they’re working.
In a statement, an Uber spokesman said, “Our thoughts are with the driver at this time. The rider’s access to the app has been removed.”
Uber policy prohibits drivers and passengers from carrying guns.