Women accused of attacking Lyft driver who took them to wrong destination

(AP File Photo)
(AP File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Lyft driver says he was pepper sprayed, cut with a knife and choked by two passengers after he drove them to the wrong location.

Tiffany Houston, 23, and Reyanna Copeland, 21, have been charged with aggravated assault, a second degree felony, a year after the attack happened.

On Feb. 17, 2016, police were called to the parking lot of a grocery market and gas station at 2109 Holly St. in east Austin for a “violent disturbance.”

Arriving officers talked to the Lyft driver, who appeared to be in pain from being pepper sprayed. The driver told officers he had picked up the women after getting a ride request at the McDonald’s at 1135 Airport Blvd., near Springdale Road, at 7:30 p.m.

The passengers wanted to be taken to Lady Bird Lake. The driver said when they pulled up to the parking lot on Holly Street, the passengers became “irate” that he had taken them to the wrong location.

When they started swearing at the driver, he demanded they get out of the car and warned he was going to call police. Houston, who was in the front passenger seat, then pepper sprayed the driver, according to a police affidavit.

The driver said Houston then punched him twice in the face, his head and shoulder. The backseat passenger, Copeland, then choked him from behind and scratched the back of his neck, he told police.

Houston then grabbed a knife and brought it toward him, the driver said. Raising his hand to defend himself, the driver told police Houston cut his middle finger before he fell out of the car.

Copeland then grabbed a rock and approached the man, police documents say, but someone from a nearby restaurant took the rock away from the woman.

Detectives subpoenaed Lyft for the passengers’ information. In addition to matching photos of the suspects with the driver’s description, detectives learned that Copeland and Houston were involved in a family disturbance on March 21, 2016. In a police lineup, the driver identified the two women as the suspects.

Bond for both women has been set at $20,000.

In a statement, a Lyft spokesperson said, “Safety is our top priority and we were horrified to hear about what happened to [the victim] last year. As soon as this was reported to us, we were in touch with [him] and his family, worked with the authorities in their investigation, and banned the passenger from being able to access Lyft.”

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