Woman Who Coughed on Back of Uber Driver Pleads Not Guilty to Assault Charges

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The woman who was seen on video footage coughing on the back of a Middle Eastern Uber driver in San Francisco during an argument over the wearing of face masks has pleaded not guilty to assault and other charges, said authorities.

On Monday, authorities said 24-year-old Arna Kimiai entered the not-guilty pleas to charges of assault, attempted first-degree robbery, battery on a transit employee, and violating a local health ordinance. The suspect is scheduled for a hearing on May 3 is currently free on bail.

Not Guilty Plea

Prosecutors accused Kimiai of assaulting 32-year-old Subhakar Khadka on March 7 after they got into his vehicle for an Uber ride. The suspect was with two other women in the Portola district. However, the driver later stopped the car and asked the passengers to get out after they refused to wear face masks.

Video footage from the vehicle’s dash camera showed one of the women not wearing a face mask, who was later identified as Kimiai, coughing on the victim’s back, trying to grab his phone, and ripping his face mask off.

Khadka said that when the three women got off of his vehicle, they used pepper spray on the open window in the passenger seat. A week after the attack, Kimiai surrendered to police and uploaded an apology on social media, NBC Bay Area reported.

Malaysia King, one of the women with Kimiai, was also arrested last month in Las Vegas after allegedly using a fake ID to withdraw money from a bank account. She was also accused of assault with a caustic chemical, conspiracy, assault and battery, and a health and safety code violation for the attack on Khadka.

While the third suspect was not charged, Uber officials said they have banned all three women from using their ride-hailing application.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.