As Lyft driver Cynthia Norman steered a white Chevy through Cleveland’s streets on a cold night in January, the app pinged her to pick up a passenger named “NBA.” She pulled up to the curb in front of a two-story brick apartment complex where two men who looked to be in their 20s were waiting for her. One was wearing a gold hoodie, the other was in a black hoodie; both had on face masks.
Norman said she was out late driving because her husband was sick in the hospital and she figured they could use the extra money. After greeting the men, Norman said the one in the black hoodie insisted on sitting in the front seat, despite it being against Lyft’s pandemic rules. That was the first red flag of the night, she said. Next, the Lyft app showed their destination as a short, four-minute ride away—the second red flag. Norman said the third red flag was when the ride ended at a shuttered sports arena.
“Bitch, this is a carjacking, get out,” the man in the passenger seat replied. Then he punched her in the face….