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Uber Drivers Say They Were Screwed Over In LAPD Sting

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Three Uber drivers, who were arrested on the job in downtown L.A. as part of an LAPD sting operation, are complaining that they were victims of entrapment.

The drivers, Roy Freeman, Michael Chadwick and Sid Lomeli, told CBS Los Angeles that they were all working on an otherwise normal Friday night when a woman flagged them each down on separate occasions. They said she did a number of different things to show she urgently needed a ride by waving vigorously at them and pleading for a ride.

Chadwick said, "I thought she needed help or something."

They said each of their cars had an identifying Uber "U" symbol on their windshields. She asked them if she could order their ride off the Uber app at that very moment, and jumped into their cars, the drivers recalled. That's when they were arrested by police and their cars were impounded.

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LAPD officer Drake Madison tells LAist that they don't have any information about the arrests at this moment. However, the L.A. Department of Transportation told CBS Los Angeles that they do organize these type of sting operations with the LAPD, and that ride-share drivers can be arrested if they pick up someone for a ride that has not been arranged before the pick-up.

An Uber spokesperson gave LAist a statement: "While we are currently gathering more information on this matter, it is important to note that all uberX and UBER rides must be arranged through the Uber app, which the California legislature, the CPUC, Governor Brown and local jurisdictions across California have embraced as a safe, reliable transportation alternative."

The drivers, who all have nearly perfect Uber ratings, said that they feel they were treated unfairly by police since they haven't offered anyone on the street a ride before.

New York Uber drivers have recently face a similar crackdown. The New York Post reported that New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission seized 496 cars associated with Uber for illegal pickups from street hails (mostly pickups from the airport) between April 29 and June 15. Uber's policy is that they don't allow their drivers to accept street hails.

Last summer, LAist wrote a story about a woman who said she was approached by a man claiming to be an Uber driver, and ended the ride insisting she give him a "big, long hug" instead of paying for the fare. At that time, Uber's communications team told us their policy: "Uber is an on-demand app that connects riders with driver partners. Uber rides are only arranged via the app. We do not accept street hails. Uber’s highest priority is connecting our users to the safest, most reliable transportation providers in their community. We have a two-way feedback loop for riders and driver partners to report any unusual activity."

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