Passenger Tried To Choke Out His Lyft Driver

Dash cam recorded attack while car still moving

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Lyft Attacker

AUGUST 4--A Lyft driver was the target of an unprovoked attack early Sunday by a male passenger who tore down a plastic partition and began throttling the victim while the vehicle was still in motion, according to police.

The attack, which was recorded by a dash cam, resulted in the arrest of Travis Smith, 36, on battery and child abuse charges. The latter count was filed against Smith since a seven-year-old boy was a passenger in the car at the time of the 12:15 AM incident.

As detailed in a charging affidavit (and seen in the above video), Smith had been asking the driver about the partition, which was intended to provide a degree of COVID-19 protection between the 47-year-old Lyft driver and his passengers.

As the vehicle traveled toward Smith’s home in Palm Coast, a city 50 miles south of Jacksonville, he suddenly tore down the plastic and put the driver in a chokehold. Smith, who struck the victim with several punches, was in the back seat with a 34-year-old man and his son who were visiting from Maine.

The victim suffered a bruise on his forehead during the attack by Smith, who cops say was “highly intoxicated” when they questioned him. Smith claimed that the victim had been “driving recklessly, blowing through red lights.” Fearing that his life was in danger, Smith claimed, he “attempted to subdue” the Lyft driver.

A review of the dash cam footage, however, showed that “Travis was being dishonest, and provided an inaccurate statement of the events,” cops noted.   

In addition to a misdemeanor battery count for attacking the driver, Smith was also charged with felony child abuse since the attack caused the victim to cross over the road’s median, which could have resulted in an accident. The boy, police reported, was crying and appeared visibly upset. “I just want to go to sleep,” the child said.

Pictured above, Smith is free on $7500 bond. (3 pages)