Ride-share drivers claim cops roughed up fellow driver during arrest

Uber and Lyft drivers are speaking out after they say police roughed him up.

ATLANTA -- Uber and Lyft drivers are speaking out after a fellow driver was arrested Wednesday night at Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.

The drivers claim police roughed him up, after he was pulled out of his car, arrested and taken to the Clayton County Jail over a car decal.

Police said the driver, 31-year-old Stanley Simmons, did not properly display his Uber decal. He's facing charges, after Atlanta Police said he refused to listen to commands. But several of his fellow drivers say police went too far.

11Alive's Chris Hopper looked into the incident -- all caught on video -- after several people reached out, asking us to hold the powerful accountable.

In video shared with 11Alive, Simmons can be heard yelling and swearing at police before they eventually pulled him out of the car and handcuffed him. Police can be seen walking him over to the back of a police cruiser, while several people gathered shout for Simmons to remain calm and not to say anything else.

It's what happened next, when officers go to place Simmons in the back of the police cruiser, that fellow ride-share drivers take issue with.

Vanessa Bagshaw was there in the Ride-share parking lot when the incident unfolded. She said officers were too rough with the man.

"When they went to put him in the car, they did like, they tossed him on the car. The back of his head hit the frame of the car. I mean, there is no need for none of that," she told 11Alive.

The video ends after the officer spells out his name with a shout, before he walks away. Bagshaw claims the officers then turned their attention to other drivers there.

"We were told, 'Why don't we go get a real job' by the police, we were told to the police to, 'Shut up,' or like, I was told, 'Shut up, or you are going to go next,'" Bagshaw said.

In a statement, Atlanta Police said in part that Simmons refused to show I.D., would not step out of the car, then resisted arrest. Police said officers have the right to ask an Uber or Lyft driver for their IDs at any time, and that the decal is proof that they have the right to pick up riders from the airport. (Scroll to read the full statement from police.)

Fellow Uber driver Amy Barnes was not at the airport Wednesday, but she told 11Alive she was concerned about going back after watching the video.

"People are saying they don't want to go to the airport, people are saying it's time to shut the apps off, it's time to have protests, it's time to bail this guy out and it's time to take some action," Barnes said.

Simmons is now facing charges including disorderly conduct and obstruction an officer. 

Here's the Atlanta Police Department's full statement on the situation:

Uber and Lyft drivers are required by permit to display a decal issued by the airport. To ensure safe and efficient operations at the Rideshare Assembly Area (RAA), Atlanta Police and airport representatives patrol the lot throughout the day. The decals – more commonly referred to as hang tags – must be visible; most drivers hang the decals from their rearview mirror. 

The tags offer APD and airport representatives visual proof of the operator’s right to serve as a permitted TNC (Transportation Network Company) driver on airport property, and are necessary to provide for the safety of drivers, passengers, operations representatives, and law enforcement personnel. The decals do not offer specific identification of the TNC drivers; the decals are used only to give law enforcement officers or airport representatives proof that the driver is affiliated with a permitted TNC. A law enforcement officer or representative of the airport may inspect a driver’s identification or a Waybill (found on the driver’s smartphone) at any time.

In this particular instance, the driver in the RAA – identified later as Stanley Speller (Simmons), age 31 – did not have his decal properly displayed and was asked by an Atlanta Police vehicles for hire representative to provide identification. Mr. Speller refused to comply, became upset and began using profanity. An Atlanta Police officer was called to the scene, and Mr. Speller repeatedly chose to refuse to provide identification. The officer informed Mr. Speller he was under arrest and ordered him to step out of his car. Mr. Speller refused to step out of the car, forcing the officer to remove him from it. Mr. Speller resisted arrest, but was eventually handcuffed and taken to the Clayton County jail. He is charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of officers.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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