‘Do you want to live or die?’: Passenger who pulled gun on Uber driver turns out to be cop
A federal police officer pointed a gun at the head of an Uber driver last week in Salt Lake City, authorities said.
Driver James Brothers said he picked up a group from a bar Oct. 20 and dropped off a man and woman at a party after they had a disagreement with a third passenger.
He said the remaining passenger, later identified as 44-year-old Byron McDonald, acted paranoid after he attempted to make small talk.
“Typically I’ll ask people where they’re from or from out of town, but he just wouldn’t give me any info,” Brothers said.
Then the passenger began asking strange questions in a slurred voice.
“He asked, ‘Do you want to live or die?’” Brothers told KSL-TV. “So I said, ‘Well, I want to live, of course.’”
McDonald asked the driver about his 3-year-old daughter and girlfriend – neither of which Brothers has – as they arrived at the downtown Hilton.
Then McDonald put a gun to the driver’s head and then moved the weapon down so it was pointed at Brothers’ side.
“I just thought, ‘I’m going to bail because I’m not going to sit around and wait for what’s going to happen,'” Brothers said.
Brothers said he grabbed his phone from the dashboard, pulled the keys from the ignition, and tried to jump out the driver’s side door.
McDonald grabbed his shirt collar and tried to pull the driver back into the vehicle, but he broke free and fled.
Brothers called 911 as he ran away, and police arrested McDonald – who turned out to be a police officer with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
A spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior, which oversees the bureau, said McDonald was on “official travel at the time of the incident.”
McDonald was charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, and attempted kidnapping.
He was bailed out of the Salt Lake County Jail on Saturday.
Prosecutors said surveillance video from the hotel supports the driver’s claims.
The bureau is conducting its own investigation of the officer’s actions.
Watch this video report posted online by KTVX-TV: