by Gargs Allard
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to interview Derrick Edmondson, a 58-year-old Uber driver and military veteran from Ocala, Fla. He served on the USS Kitty Hawk while in the US Navy during the Iranian Conflict. His son Derrick Edmondson Jr. has served in the US military in Iraq and is currently on his third turn in Afghanistan. Derrick Sr., who is physically challenged due recently to neck surgery, has also served as captain of his neighborhood watch in Ocala and said he has a good working relationship with the Ocala Police.
Edmondson said he was physically and verbally assaulted on September 2, 2017 at 10:22 pm in front of The Social at Midtown bar and restaurant on University Avenue in Gainesville when he did not allow five passengers to enter his Uber X vehicle, which is only suppose to seat four passengers.
He states that one of them became physically and verbally abusive toward him, including swinging the door of his vehicle, shoving him on the back of his neck (where he just had surgery), spitting in his face and calling him racial slurs, including the “n” word. Edmondson is black and the alleged assaulter is white.
He said that when he contacted Uber, he was told that they could not release the name to him, as it was confidential, but that if the Gainesville Police Department [GPD] contacted them, then they would release the young man’s information to the GPD.
Edmondson is currently having a dispute with the GPD because, according to him, the white female officer Smith, who took the report, did not include in the report the physical violence he described to her. He also said that the GPD did not return his calls and acted unfriendly to him when he visited its headquarters. Therefore, he suspects the police might be protecting the white student.
He also claims there were many witnesses in front of the Social at Midtown who saw the incident take place and did nothing, perhaps out of fear. His hope is that one or more of them will come forward after seeing his interview.
He appears to be extremely frustrated with the situation at hand but determined to see it through to its end. He further stated he is not seeking money, just justice.
When contacted about the incident, an Uber spokesperson wrote via email:
We do not tolerate violence or discrimination of any kind on the Uber app. Please see our Community Guidelines here. We spoke with Mr. Edmondson shortly after he reported this to us and the rider was removed from the app, pending investigation. We work with law enforcement all over the world and if they reach out to us about an investigation, we cooperate and provide information.
The Gainesville Police Department did not return our call for comment.