Ex-Taco Bell Exec Sentenced to 60 Days in Jail in Attack on Uber Driver

A former Taco Bell executive accused of slapping and hitting an Uber driver in an attack caught on video in Costa Mesa pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, according to prosecutors.

Benjamin Allen Golden, 33, plead guilty to one count of battery on a taxi driver. Misdemeanor counts of battery against a transportation worker, assault and battery were dismissed.

Golden was placed on three years of informal probation, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

The incident happened on Oct. 30, 2015, when Golden called for an Uber around 8:30 p.m. because he had been drinking while celebrating Halloween at a Newport Beach bar.

He struggled to tell Edward Caban, where he wanted to go, so the 24-year-old driver eventually stopped in a parking lot at 1835 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa and told him to get out, Scott said.

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 did not need medical treatment, Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott said.

Caban -- acting in self-defense -- pepper-sprayed Golden, Scott said.

Golden's attorney, Courtney Pilchman, was not immediately available for comment, but in the past has pointed out that her client publicly apologized to the Caban, who said he had to quit his job and move out of state because he was so upset about the conflict.

Golden lost his job at Taco Bell following widespread public outcry over the attack.

Caban said through his attorney last year that he put the camera 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.

Caban installed the camera with a GPS function to prove where he has driven his vehicle, said his attorney at the time, Rivers Morrell III. The camera usually faces forward, but Caban swung it around the night of the run-in with Golden, Morrell said.

"He saw this thing starting to escalate," Morrell said. "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," Pilchman said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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