The rideshare app Lyft would rather have its drivers be victims of violent crime than have them use lawful force to be survivors of it.
That much is clear based on the case of Cynthia Norman, a Cleveland woman who this past weekend successfully defended herself from would-be carjackers only to be fired from the San Francisco-based company for violating its policy on weapons.
Norman talked to local media about the harrowing incident that began around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning in the city’s Nottingham neighborhood after she picked up two passengers in their 20s.
“He opens the door, he gets in and he said, ‘Oh, I’m cold. Do you care if I sit up front,’” Norman said, noting that was a violation of Lyft’s covid protocol to have a rider sit up front with the driver. “I could see it’s about to go bad.”
The riders drop-off point was the NEO Sports Plant, which given the time of night was closed. At this point, she started to become extremely wary of their intentions.
“It starts to get pitch black. It’s dark,” Norman said. “I asked them, ‘Is where you want to be?’ And in my mind it’s dark. It looked like a factory. I already knew this was going to be some bull.”
The suspects started to physically assault Norman.
“The guy in the passenger seat says, ‘B****, it’s a carjack.’ When he punched me in my face, the one that’s behind me, he grabbed me around my throat like this,” Norman said. “This one in the back is like, ‘Hey man. Why don’t you use the knife I gave you?’”
Fearing for her life, Norman worked to retrieve the handgun located in the center console of her vehicle.
“I just leaned on the armrest because my gun is in the armrest, but the idiots don’t know it’s in the armrest,” Norman said. “He walked back to the door again. I just opened up the thing, pulled my gun out and just aimed toward the door and started shooting.”
The perps fled the scene. But they didn’t leave empty handed. They managed to steal the one tool Lyft sanctions when drivers encounter trouble: her cellphone.
See, Lyft instructs drivers to access the company’s “safety tool kit” on the app if they encounter problems with passengers. But Norman asserts that depending on Lyft has severe limitations, especially when one’s life is on the line.
“If I don’t have the phone to call you to get help, what’s the next thing I need to do to get help? The only thing I can do is either pull out a taser, pull out a gun, a bat, or a knife, beat the hell out of somebody and then call the police,” Norman explained.
“You want me to not carry a gun or mace or taser? You want me to depend on you,” Norman continued. “I’m going to do what I’ve got to do and if that means you want to deactivate me, so be it, but I’ve got to return home.”
Norman will not face charges in relation to the incident. All signs indicate that she acted lawfully when she drew her gun and fired on the suspects, according to police.
Criminal defense attorney Matt Bangerter told News 5 Cleveland that Norman is protected under the state’s self-defense laws.
“She does have the benefit of the Castle Doctrine and then Ohio just passed the ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law in December,” Bangerter said. “She’s certainly within her legal rights to defend herself if she’s being carjacked.”
But despite her lawful, what some might even describe as “heroic” actions, Lyft terminated its partnership with Norman after becoming aware of the situation.
No arrests have yet been made. It appears the carjackers are still on the loose. Let us hope they’re not wise to Lyft’s weapons-free policy. Otherwise, unprepared and defenseless drivers may find themselves in Ms. Norman’s shoes.