In a video posted on YouTube Monday, a man who describes himself as an LA-based Uber driver who was just busted in what has been branded on Reddit as an “unethical sting operation” disrupts the investigation and quickly finds himself confronted by both undercover and uniformed police.
The man filming the video, whose face is not shown, begins recording from across the street. “These two people are the two individuals that entrapped me right here, and they’re trying to do it right now,” he says as he crosses the street, the camera focused on two people, a man and a woman, who are revealed to be undercover police.
“They’re trying to get every other Uber driver and Lyft driver right now,” the driver says as he approaches them. “Look at them, waving people down. The woman said … her phone was out of battery and the guy said he had a flip phone and said he had cash,” the Uber driver explains. “They’re trying to catch all kinds of people.”
At this point he is just a few feet away from the two people, who have managed to wave down a Lyft driver in a red sedan. “Watch this,” says the Uber driver as the couple leans in to talk to the Lyft driver, the man saying something about the Staple Center.
“Hey, brother, those people are undercover cops!” the Uber driver yells to the Lyft driver. “I just got a citation for this!”
“Oh really?” says the Lyft driver, who begins to slowly pull away.
“Yeah, they trapped me,” the Uber driver responds. As the car drives off, he says to the police, “Yep. Good job, guys!”
At this point, the female is filming the Uber driver on her cell phone. As he begins to back away, he says, “I’ll see y’all in court,” adding sarcastically, “Oh, I thought your phone was dead! Ah, your phone ain’t dead no more, huh?”
“We gave you cash,” says the female, walking closer to him.
“I didn’t take nothing from you,” the driver replies. “I took nothing from neither one of you people, and you know I didn’t.”
“Okay, I’m going to show this to the judge,” she says. “You’re harassing me. You’re interfering with an investigation.”
“I’m not harassing nothing,” the driver responds. “Y’all entrapped me.”
That’s when a police cruiser pulls up and two uniformed police officers, a male and a female, step out.
The woman tells the officers that the driver is interfering with their investigation. Asked how he’s doing by one of the officers, the driver says, “I just got trapped and I just wanted to stop someone else from getting trapped, that’s all.”
“You know by doing this you’re interfering with an investigation?” the male uniformed officer says.
“I’m not interfering with no investigation,” the driver says. “I’m not interfering with anything. I was making a video and they just happened to have some people pull up.”
In a 2016 report, NBC Los Angeles detailed an ongoing sting operation conducted by Los Angeles authorities that has caught hundreds of rideshare drivers. “The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation conduct four to 10 stings per month to catch so-called ‘bandit taxi drivers,'” the outlet reported. “These bandits are described as people who illicitly pose as cab drivers, sidestepping regulators and taking cash fares, according to police.”
NBC notes that the departments spend “about $800,000 annually on these sting operations and all of it is paid for by the taxi cab industry,” leading to rideshare drivers “questioning the legality of the undercover operations.”