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Lyft driver attacked, put in chokehold after picking up wrong passenger, police say

Suspect accused of threatening to kill Palm Bay officers

Jeremy Reighard
Jeremy Reighard (Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

PALM BAY, Fla. – A Lyft driver who accidentally picked up the wrong passenger from a bar was attacked, placed in a chokehold, called racial slurs and had his phone smashed, according to the Palm Bay Police Department.

Police said the victim picked up Jeremy Reighard from The Wet Spot on Dixie Highway around 1 a.m. Monday and the trip was going fine until the driver got a call that he had picked up the wrong passenger and made a U-turn to drop Reighard back off at the bar.

That’s when police said Reighard started threatening the driver. As the victim went to pull over to let Reighard out, Reighard put the driver in a chokehold, police said.

“(The victim) advised that Jeremy grabbed him with one arm over his forehead, pulling his head backwards and the other arm pulling his collar, attempting to choke (the victim),” the report read.

The ridesharing app driver was able to remove himself from Reighard’s grip and get out of the vehicle, but when he tried to get his phone to call 911, Reighard grabbed the phone, smashed it on the ground and said, “You aren’t calling the police,” according to the affidavit.

The victim tried to back away to create space, but Reighard charged at him and in return, the victim pushed him, records show.

Police said the victim punched Reighard on the side of his head when he approached him a second time and then, Reighard ran away down Dixie Highway.

The driver said that as he was telling Reighard to get out of the vehicle, Reighard called him racial slurs, according to the report.

Reighard was located nearby and as he was being arrested, he became “extremely hostile” and threatened to kill officers and their families, records show.

Reighard was arrested on charges of robbery, battery (hate crime), deprivation of 911, criminal mischief and threatening a public servant.


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