DENVER — A Lyft driver was seriously injured after being attacked by a group of motorcyclists in downtown Denver. The attack sent the driver to the hospital. The motorcyclists are also accused of damaging the driver’s car and stealing one of his cell phones and a dash camera.
The altercation was caught on camera and Denver police are now trying to figure out who the motorcyclists are.
Robert Cleveland has been driving for the rideshare company for about a year and uses it as his main source of income. Up until this point, Cleveland says he’s never had an incident and takes steps to keep himself safe.
“I try not to drive after midnight just because downtown can get so chaotic you never know what you’re going to get,” Cleveland said.
Cleveland was on his normal Lyft route around 11:20 p.m. on Sept. 13 and heading to pick up a passenger when he pulled up behind a group of motorcyclists.
“They started doing wheelies and stunts and doing burnouts in the middle of the road and there were two bikes that were slowing all traffic down,” Cleveland said.
Cleveland and several other cars were stuck behind the motorcycles, so he honked and tried to go around them. That’s when the motorcyclists started doing hand gestures at him and kicking his car.
Several of them started following him and tried to block his car. Cleveland tried driving away to lose them but the motorcycles kept following him.
“I was going to pick up a Lyft rider and I can’t stop and risk a customer so that’s when I stopped short of my arrival to pick up my customer,” he said. “At the spur of the moment I hopped out of the car. I should have called 911 but everything happened so fast.”
Cleveland confronted the people who were following him at the intersection of 27th and Walnut. As he was speaking to one of the riders, someone came from his right side and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Normally, Cleveland would be able to defend himself; he’s about 6-foot-6 and towers over most people.
“It was pretty much a sucker punch. I didn’t see it coming,” he said.
After he fell to the ground, a second person punched him. The attack was partially caught on camera by someone nearby. Cleveland was knocked unconscious and had to stay at the hospital overnight.
“The doctors told me I had a cracked orbital bone, swelling going on around the eye, I had a scratched cornea, a concussion that I’m still dealing with today,” he said.
The motorcyclists then allegedly stole one of his cell phones and a dash camera. Cleveland’s car had both taillights smashed, his driver-side mirror taken off and the passenger-side mirror was broken out.
Because of the concussion and eye injuries, Cleveland hasn’t been able to work. He’s also still waiting for his car to be fixed and is facing repair and medical bills. Despite this, he considers himself lucky.
“I’m just kind of thankful that I’m not dead. At this point, seeing the footage, if that guy would’ve hit me in the temple any harder or anywhere else I could be dead,” he said.
"Community safety is fundamental to Lyft. The incident described is concerning, and we have reached out to the driver to extend our support. Lyft stands ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation," a Lyft spokesperson told Denver7 Thursday.
Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is now asking for the public’s help to identify the suspects who were involved in the attack. They are offering a reward of up to $2,000 for tips and callers can remain anonymous. The number is 720-913-STOP (7867).
“This gives a bad name to motorcycle riders all around the community,” said Cleveland. “What these people did was wrong and there should be some justice.”