MPD: Uber driver faces assault charges after hitting passenger with bat

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A Memphis Uber driver is accused of hitting his passenger with a baseball bat after being told he was going the wrong way.

The passenger said he was trying to go to Midtown from Cooper Young and didn’t think the ride would end in violence.

“It just kind of took me by surprise. I was just kind of amazed by it. I was just traumatized a little bit," said John Pearson.

The incident started around 10 p.m. on Thursday when Pearson was trying to get a ride home from Sweet Grass in Cooper Young.

“When the Uber driver got there, he was a little agitated. He asked me if I was going to throw up in his car.”

An uncomfortable start, but then it got worse when the driver started going the wrong direction.

Pearson said he brought it up and the driver asked him if he wanted to call a different ride.

“And then as we proceeded to almost East Parkway, I said, 'Hey man, I live the other direction' and he said, 'Get out! Get out of my car! Get another Uber!'”

He says the driver pulled over to a car wash and ditched him.

Taken aback, Pearson says he lightly kicked the bumper.

“He slammed on his brakes and immediately got out an aluminum baseball bat and came and swung at me, and I put my arm up to block it and he smashed me on my wrist.”

Pearson went to a gas station across the street to try and find witnesses or surveillance video that captured the assault, but had no luck.

When police arrived, they used Pearson’s phone to identify Juan Magdalenas, 44, as the driver.

Police reports show he’s been connected to multiple assaults in the past.

“I take Uber all the time. You never know when you’re going to draw the bad apple, the wild card like that. I just don’t understand.”

All Uber’s told him so far is they deactivated Magdalenas’ account.

Pearson uses the app every day without a problem and has a 4.99 rating.

He says he’d expect more support from the company.

Uber released a response to our story Tuesday afternoon. It read: "This is a regrettable and concerning incident. The driver was removed from the app and we are looking into the matter.”

Pearson says the driver told the company it was an argument, rather than an assault.

He’s looking into getting an attorney.