The Uber Eats driver accused of fatally shooting an Atlanta customer is now in police custody.
The Atlanta police said that they had a warrant charging Bivines with felony murder. But the suspect, 36-year-old Robert Bivines, turned himself in on Monday.
The victim has been earlier identified as 30-year-old Ryan Thornton. Authorities said Thorton ordered delivery from Uber Eats late Saturday and went outside his Buckhead apartment complex to pick up his food. Investigators shared that accounts of witnesses said that Thorton and the driver exchanged some words before the shooting took place, and Thorton was killed.
Bivines’ lawyer, Jackie Patterson, told the local media that his client simply “had no choice but to defend himself” when the customer became irate and aggressive over disagreements on his order. Local media reports say the shots were apparently fired from inside the vehicle before leaving the scene.
Witnesses never saw at any point that Thorton appeared to physically threaten the Uber Eats driver in their brief exchange.
It is against Uber company policy for its drivers to carry guns while driving for customers or making deliveries. Uber Eats also said in a statement that Bivines passed a background check and but worked for only a few days with the company before the incident happened.
Bivines also had a previous record of being charged with assault in DeKalb County in 2009 and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of battery in May 2010. Uber failed to flag down Bivines’ past offenses because their driver pre-screening process only tracks criminal records as far back as seven years.
Uber Eats expressed shock and sadness with the senseless act of violence against their customer Thornton. The company added in its statement that their hearts go out to Thorton’s family and friends. Uber Eats also said that they have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and clarified that the suspect, Bivines, can no longer access their app.
The Goldwater first reported about the shocking death of Thorton that also left his community stunned and fearful of continuing to use the Uber app that may have led to their neighbor’s untimely death.
It was certainly a life wasted by just an argument over delivery food. Thorton just graduated from Morehouse College last year with a degree in political science. He had just recently started a job. Morehouse president David Thomas even described Thorton as an ambitious student with so much promise.