MILWAUKEE — A longtime Milwaukee Uber driver says he was assaulted by men he picked up in downtown Milwaukee.
It happened around 2 a.m. April 18, near Broadway and Juneau.
Just a few hours later, Uber driver Waseem Aodhari was treated for an eye injury at Froedtert Hospital. He shared photos of the injury.
Waseem is an American citizen, who moved here from Yemen seven years ago. He’s been a high-rated driver for Uber for nearly five years now, and has been trying to work as much as he can, since fewer people have needed rides during the pandemic.
Waseem says he asked the men, who he believes had been drinking, to pull up their masks over their mouths and noses while in his car. That's when Waseem says one of them started cursing at him, and told him to go back to his country. Waseem says he told them to get out of his car.
“At that point, I didn’t feel safe with them,” he said. “I told them I respect you, please respect me. They were saying ugly things.”
Once they got out, Waseem says one of the men kicked his car.
“He kicked it, and as I rolled down my window to ask him why he was doing that, he came up to my window and punched me,” Waseem said. “I didn’t see it coming. I don’t know if he had something in his hand, or had rings on. But it was bad, and I couldn’t see for a while after that.”
Waseem went to find help. He says there were police officers a block away, whom he led back to the men. Waseem started recording with his cell phone, as an officer talked to the men. In the video, you can see the men still taunting Waseem.
“They were laughing, waving at me, joking,” he said. “They didn’t care about me.”
Waseem says the police officer then came to him.
“The officer asked if I had a witness, and I told him no,” Waseem said. “He asked if I had a camera, and I said no. Then he said he wasn’t sure what he could do, but he could clear the case and let us all go home. I said, 'I’m bleeding and in pain, I can’t go home!'”
Waseem says he never fought back against the men, but was still handed a $376 ticket for assault and battery.
“I never hit anyone,” Waseem said. “Why would I do anything if there were three men against me. I sat in my car.”
Days later, Waseem says he did go and report what happened to a supervisor at the Milwaukee Police Department.
Police said in an update Friday that they have identified a 24-year-old man as a suspect in the case, and that they will be referring charges.