Los Angeles

Man Charged in Uber-Impersonating Sex Assault

A man who allegedly posed as an Uber driver and lured a woman into his SUV in the Westlake District of Los Angeles was charged Tuesday with kidnapping and raping her.

Dartanyun Lamar Smith, 39, was scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon on one felony count each of forcible rape, sodomy, kidnapping to commit rape and assault on a peace officer, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Smith allegedly approached the woman as she waited April 3 for an Uber driver and convinced her that he was from the ride-hailing service. He allegedly began sexually assaulting the woman after driving her to the 1300 block of Ingraham Street, where area residents heard her screams and called police.

Officers dispatched to the scene about 3:35 a.m. that morning found a man and a woman in the rear of a dark-colored SUV, which was parked at the curb. Responding officers saw the alleged rape in progress and tried to get into the vehicle, which was locked, according to police.

During the encounter, Smith allegedly accelerated toward Officer Jhoel DeJesus, a 14-year department veteran, who fired one shot at the suspect but missed. The suspect ultimately drove off, but the woman managed to escape a few blocks away, police said.

Chief Charlie Beck said the suspect choked the woman into unconsciousness at least three times when she was in the SUV, but she valiantly fought back against her attacker and screamed so loudly that neighbors heard the commotion and called police.

Smith was arrested Saturday morning at a South Los Angeles residence, Beck said.

Investigators from the LAPD's Robbery-Homicide Division followed leads that included DNA evidence to make the arrest, Beck said.

Authorities said Smith is a gang member with an "extensive" criminal record that includes prison time.

If convicted, Smith could face up to life in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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