Toronto Uber driver charged with assault

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The Uber driver charged with assault after yanking a woman from his car Saturday says the cell phone video capturing the altercation only tells a sliver of the story. Mohammed Mahbubul Haque, 42, claims passenger Maria Mughal slammed his door twice on exiting before she grabbed his phone from his hands through the open window, threw it to the pavement, and then hopped back into the vehicle and kicked his door from inside.

“When I saw that my personal property was being damaged, I grabbed her and pulled her out of the car,” he said.

“I understand 100 per cent…that I should have waited and called the police…but it was also because of the stress level and the scenario.”

Haque denied he told Mughal or her three fellow passengers that “Muslim Pakistani women should keep quiet,” as she had alleged to Torstar News Service on Monday.

“I’m shocked to hear about the Muslim and racial comment, because I am a Muslim myself,” he said. “You have to be tolerant with people and just be respectful.”

Haque, a married father of two, says the two assault charges he now faces are “like a nightmare.”

Mughal denied Tuesday she slammed or kicked the car door or grabbed and threw Haque’s phone.

Monday, Mughal told Torstar that when she and her friends first got into the car, she opted to take a different route and the driver refused, questioning her knowledge of roads and directions. In that earlier interview, Mughal said she and her friends retaliated by telling the driver to be quiet, then he began to drive “rashly,” and dropped them off at a different location than they’d asked.

Mughal took pictures of the driver because she said she wanted to use them to show the authorities. She said it was at this point that the driver asked her to delete the images. When she refused, she said he got out of the car, came around to the passenger side where she was sitting, and pulled her out of the cab. One of her fingers was fractured in the incident, she said.

Uber said Tuesday that it had permanently blocked Haque from the ride-sharing platform.

“His actions were unacceptable and failed to meet our standards,” said spokesperson Kayla Whaling.

The trouble Saturday began even before the passengers got in the car at around 6:30 p.m. Haque opted not enter the temporary parking area beside Mughal’s building on King St. W. near Spadina Ave. He said heavy traffic prevented him from backing up to reach the opening.

“She was upset with that,” Haque said.

The near-gridlock congestion put the car at a plodding pace down Spadina, cranking tensions further, he said. Eventually, he broke from the passengers’ suggested route to save time, he said.

“That’s where he started rush-driving, and the . . . kid with us started crying, but he continued,” Mughal said.

Haque said Tuesday that Mughal was upset with the roughly $17 fare on arrival at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal nearly an hour after setting out. UberX pricing is based in part on trip duration.

The two began yelling, and she got out of the car and slammed the door twice, he claims.

When he held up his phone to take a picture of her to “document this bad experience,” she swiped it out of his hand and tossed it to the sidewalk, he claimed.

Haque’s right wrist bears a thin scab where he says Mughal scratched him — a claim she denied Tuesday. His smartphone screen is cracked and chipped around the edges. The front passenger door of his 2016 Toyota Prius C, which he says he bought new last month, creaks when opened.

“The hinge is loosened. I have to take it to a body shop,” Haque said.

Police arrived after Mughal’s friend dialed 911.

Haque was charged with two counts of assault and released on a promise to appear.

Toronto police spokesperson Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said Haque is “not known to police.”

A search of Haque’s name and birth year didn’t turn up any criminal record, according to Ontario attorney general spokesperson Heather Visser.

Haque says his Uber ban will be financially devastating, since he planned to pay for his car — $28,000 total, with no down payment and a $540 monthly installment plan — entirely through ride-sharing income.

“I’m not a rich person, I’m a very normal, poor guy. That’s the reason I drive Uber. I really appreciate the chance that Uber gives to me to support my family. Otherwise I couldn’t even afford to live with my mom, two children and my wife. Everybody depends on me,” said Haque.

Through his other job in a downtown hotel, he supports his two children, ages 5 and 11, as well as his wife and 76-year-old mother, who is in ill health.

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