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Resurfaced video showing Uber driver exposing undercover sting reignites frustrations with police

The officers tried to convince drivers to give them a ride without using the app.


Rachel Kiley


Posted on Dec 31, 2020

An Uber driver who felt like he was dealt with unfairly by some undercover cops decided to go back to where they stopped him—and he filmed the whole thing.

A viral YouTube video shared this week to Reddit’s PublicFreakout page features an unidentified Uber driver walking down the street toward a man and a woman who look like they’re trying to hail a taxi.

“These two people are the two individuals who entrapped me right here, and they’re trying to do it right now,” he says. “They’re trying to get every other Uber driver and Lyft driver right now… Look at them, waving people down.”

What they’re doing seems to be part of an LAPD sting operation that was particularly prevalent in 2015-2016, where police would pose as ordinary citizens and flag down Uber or Lyft drivers. They would generally then claim to either not have a smartphone or have a dead battery and offer cash to be taken to their destination. If the driver accepts, they’re given a citation for operating a “bandit cab” and making money under the table.

The Uber driver in the video catches up to the undercover cops right as they’ve flagged another driver down. The male cop can be heard asking if the new driver knows where a location is, when the man filming shuts it down.

“Hey brother, those people are undercover cops. I just got a citation for this,” he says, and the car immediately drives off.

In response, the female cop starts recording him with her phone and accusing him of harassment and interfering with an investigation, while the male cop calls for backup.

“Y’all entrapped me,” the driver protests.

The video ends with a uniformed officer arriving and telling him he could be arrested.

These undercover operations against ride-hail drivers caused an outcry in Los Angeles back in 2016 after they resulted in over 200 drivers being given citations that year. On more than one occasion, drivers who were caught up in the sting said that the undercover officers went about it in a way that put them in a position where they didn’t have much of a choice, or even cited them before they even agreed to anything.

Or as one redditor put it: “[The cops] were investigating things that weren’t happening until they instigated it.”

Although the video itself is not new—it was posted to YouTube in 2019 and very well may have been from the 2015-2016 operations—it’s sparked renewed outrage in light of all the conversations about police misconduct that have happened throughout 2020.

“This is why people hate cops. I mean, how is shaking down Uber drivers a priority for any city?” u/LazyAnonBoner asked. “The answer is it’s easy.”

“Cops shouldn’t be thugs for hire,” u/LawTeaDough added.

Others are more hardened cynics, not remotely surprised by seeing this kind of behavior by police officers essentially going out of their way to make life more difficult for people who are likely already struggling to make ends meet.

“US cops use entrapment to lock up people every day,” wrote u/ReplicantWave. “Nothing new. The system is designed to lock anyone up. Prison is a business in USA you know.”

“City leaders need to find other ways to raise money,” said u/somerandomshmo.

Another redditor summed up what many were thinking, if not essentially saying: “We spend so much tax money to have these ‘officers’ in our communities doing this. Not making the community better or safer. Not serving or protecting. We would be better off without them if this is what policing is.”

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*First Published: Dec 31, 2020, 12:11 pm CST