Portland City Commissioner Leading Defund Police Efforts Called 911 on Lyft Driver

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
November 12, 2020 Updated: November 12, 2020

A Portland city commissioner who has led efforts to slash funding to police in her city called 911 on a Lyft driver after he tried dropping her off at a gas station, according to audio of the call.

“I got a Lyft driver that decided he would just drop me off at a filling station. And he wants me to get out. And I’m not getting out of the car … at a filling station. Not happening,” Jo Ann Hardesty, a Democrat, told the dispatcher on Nov. 1.

The dispatcher informed Hardesty that what she was describing was a civil agreement and there were no crimes involved.

“What he said he was calling the cops,” Hardesty said. “It’s not a crime to call the cops,” the dispatcher responded.

The dispatcher ultimately said he would send officers to the location, a Chevron gas station.

Minutes later, the driver, identified as Richmond Frost, made his own 911 call.

“I’ve got a customer that I canceled the ride. I’m a rideshare driver, canceled the ride, and I’m taking her off the freeway to this filling station so that she can order another ride. I canceled the ride so she is no longer involved or engaged with me. She’s refusing to get out of my car,” Frost said.

“She’s happy to get another ride. She can perfectly do that, get another driver, but she’s refusing to do that,” he added.

The dispatcher quickly figured out that the driver was calling about the same situation Hardesty had and informed the driver that officers were on the way, unless they were diverted by an emergency.

The calls were obtained through a public records request by The Oregonian.

Frost told the paper that he has driven for Lyft for four years and logged over 18,000 rides. He said Hardesty became upset when he was picking her up from a casino in Ridgefield because he couldn’t find her, because the pinned location she had entered was not where she was waiting.

Epoch Times Photo
An Amp sits on the dashboard of a Lyft driver’s car in a file photograph. (Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft)

“I just wanted to calm her down, make her understand that I’m not a rookie. I know what I’m doing,” Frost said. “She didn’t want to hear any of that. She just wasn’t happy with that.”

Frost then said she told him to roll up the windows. He had the windows cracked to let air circulate, which is recommended by Lyft during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I did say, ‘It’s for my safety and your safety.’ But that was like pouring gas on her fire,” Frost said. “She demanded that I close that window right now. She was kind of ballistic at that point.”

Frost decided to pull off the interstate and go to a gas station so she could exit his vehicle and find another ride. That’s when Hardesty refused to leave the car.

Hardesty, who led a successful push to slash $18 million from the police earlier this year and an unsuccessful effort to cut another $15 million this month, and has argued that some 911 calls would be better responded to by professionals who aren’t police officers, told Pamplin Media that her 911 call was necessary because the driver calling “would put me in danger.”

“And so that’s why I proactively called 911,” she added.

Hardesty called Frost “blatantly rude” and that she requested the windows be closed because it was cold.

“I don’t call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not gonna do anything that would put my personal safety at risk,” she said. “It’s a lot harder when you are Black or brown in America to make that decision … But I ultimately had very limited options.”

Hardesty submitted a complaint to Lyft, which responded that drivers are free to end a ride for any reason as long as the drop off is in a safe location.

“Safety is our top priority. We take these matters very seriously. We encourage everyone using Lyft to be respectful of others. This helps maintain a safe and inclusive community,” a Lyft employee told her. “Please know that future reports of this nature may lead to additional action being taken on your account.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.