97°F
weather icon Clear

Police say Uber driver interrupted ride to rape sleeping passenger

An Uber driver is accused of raping a female passenger who fell asleep in his vehicle, according to Las Vegas police.

Logs provided to police by the ride-sharing service show the driver, Dawed Mekonene, 30, canceled the 6-mile ride on Tuesday from the Strip to an apartment complex in the south valley while it was in progress, then restarted it 22 minutes later and delivered the woman to her destination.

When officers questioned him about the gap, Mekonene “attempted to deflect the question” as his leg “started to shake very fast,” his arrest report said.

He subsequently asked for a lawyer, cutting off further questioning, police said.

Las Vegas Justice Court logs do not show an attorney for Mekonene.

Mekonene was booked Tuesday into the Clark County Detention Center on two counts of sexual assault and one count each of battery by strangulation to commit sexual assault and kidnapping.

Clark County prosecutors declined to pursue the kidnapping charge, court logs show.

Bail was set at $200,000, although it was not clear if Mekonene had posted it.

He is next due in court on Dec. 30.

The out-of-state visitor told investigators that she fell asleep five minutes into the ride and woke up with the driver sexually assaulting her in the back seat, police said.

Ignoring her pleas to stop, she said the driver strangled her into unconsciousness and continued raping her, according to the arrest report.

The driver then restarted the fare, took her to her destination, pulled her out of the car and threw her clothes and other belongings at her, the report said.

The woman ran to the building’s front desk and asked for help, police said.

Police used Uber records to identify the driver as Mekonene, and found apartment surveillance footage that showed the woman being dropped off, the report said.

Mekonene first told investigators that the woman was “intoxicated” and asleep, but then changed his story to say she was awake and speaking on the phone, police said.

He said he had been driving for Uber and Lyft for six months, the report said. Police urged potential additional victims to call Metro at 702-828-3421.

“The details described by the rider are horrific, and we immediately deactivated the driver,” an Uber spokesperson said via email. “We are working with law enforcement on their investigation.”

The company’s website says that yearly background checks are conducted on its drivers to check for criminal and driving histories and “uses technology to look for issues in between” the regular checks.

Uber also allows users of its app to report safety concerns to local law enforcement.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

THE LATEST