Portland, OR – Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty allegedly went “ballistic” on a Portland Lyft driver earlier this month, resulting in the driver canceling her ride and ordering her to get out of his vehicle.
But Hardesty refused to exit the car and called 911 to have police intercede, according to The Oregonian.
Hardesty is notoriously anti-police and has led the charge in Portland to defund Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
Thanks to Hardesty’s efforts, Portland has defunded PPB by $15 million so far and she’ pushing to further defund the police by another $18 million.
The commissioner has also accused police of starting fires during the months-long rioting as an excuse to attack community members.
But her history didn’t stop her from calling the police on an emergency line to try to settle her dispute with her Lyft driver.
The 63-year-old Lyft driver, Richmond Frost, said he has provided over 18,000 rides to customers over the four years he has been working for the company.
Frost said he had no idea Hardesty was a city commissioner when she requested to be picked up from the ilani Casino Resort in Ridgefield on Nov. 1, The Oregonian reported.
He said he had just dropped off another customer in Vancouver when a request for a ride from “Joe Ann” came up.
Frost accepted the request and headed about 25 miles north to the casino, where he pulled up to the front doors.
After waiting for five minutes, the driver called Hardesty to let her know he had arrived, The Oregonian reported.
“It kind of went south from there,” Frost told the paper. “She wasn’t happy. She didn’t understand where I was.”
He ultimately figured out Hardesty was standing outside a side entrance and went to her location, but the city commissioner was clearly upset that he didn’t know where she was in the first place, he told The Oregonian.
Frost said he showed Hardesty his phone and explained that he drove to the pin drop on the screen, which was supposed to be her location.
“I just wanted to calm her down, make her understand that I’m not a rookie. I know what I’m doing,” he told The Oregonian. “She didn’t want to hear any of that. She just wasn’t happy with that.”
The next issue of contention arose as they began pulling out of the casino parking lot.
According to Lyft’s COVID-19 rules, car windows should be left open whenever possible to circulate fresh air and help protect both customers and drivers.
But Hardesty immediately demanded that Frost roll them up, he told The Oregonian.
The driver said he rolled the windows up a bit but left them open just slightly as he explained that the air circulation was a safety precaution since they could not socially distance in the confines of a vehicle.
“I did say, ‘It’s for my safety and your safety.’ But that was like pouring gas on her fire,” Frost told The Oregonian.
Hardesty continued to order the driver to close the windows, he said.
“She demanded that I close that window right now. She was kind of ballistic at that point,” Frost told The Oregonian.
Hardesty refused to back down and continued to order Frost to roll up the windows as they pulled onto Interstate 5, he said.
That’s when the driver decided “it would be in the best interest for both” he and Hardesty to cancel the ride at no cost to the commissioner.
Frost said he pulled off at the next possible exit and drove up to a nearby Chevron station that was “lit up like a football field,” The Oregonian reported.
“It’s safe. It’s warm,” he told the paper. “She could order another Lyft or Uber, whatever she wants to do, and I can be done, and I can get on with my work.”
Although the Chevron station was closing as Frost and Hardesty arrived, the building remained well-lit and utilized due to the 24-hour credit card pumps. The Oregonian reported.
But Hardesty refused to get out of Frost’s car, and demanded to either be taken back to the casino or to be driven the rest of the way to her destination, he said.
She insisted she’d already paid for the ride, even though Frost explained he’d canceled the trip and no money had been deducted from her account, The Oregonian reported.
As they sat in the parked vehicle outside the front doors of the Chevron station, Frost said he finally asked her if he would need to resort to calling the police to have her removed from his car.
That’s when Hardesty, who oversees Portland’s emergency dispatch system, decided to call 911 herself, The Oregonian reported.
She later claimed that she placed the call because Frost calling the police on her would have put her “in danger,” KOIN reported.
“Well, I’ve got a Lyft driver that decided he would just drop me off at a filling station,” the commissioner said during the recorded call, according to the paper. “Well, I’m not getting out of the car, in the dark, at a filling station, not happening – all because I asked him to put the window up. I’m not leaving.”
“He says I’ve got to get out of his car, or he would call the police,” she added. “So I decided to call for him.”
The 911 dispatcher repeatedly explained to Hardesty that the vehicle was the driver’s private property and that he was not committing any crimes, but she would not concede, The Oregonian reported.
“I am not going to allow him to leave me at the side of the road,” she argued, as Frost pointed out that they were at the front doors of a gas station – not on the side of a roadway.
Despite Frost’s assurances to the contrary, Hardesty continued to insist she had already paid for the ride and that she would not exit the car until another vehicle showed up to take her where she wanted to go, The Oregonian reported.
She said “it was cold and she was a woman and alone,” according to dispatch records.
The dispatcher pointed out that Hardesty was the only one who could call for another ride for herself, KOIN reported.
“Only you can order another ride,” the dispatcher said. “I can have an officer come out but they’re not going to be able to make him stay there.”
Hardesty retorted that the driver “can’t go anywhere” because she was “not moving until another car comes,” KOIN reported.
While they waited for police, Frost also called to report the incident, according to The Oregonian.
“It was just a ride that didn’t work out. It wasn’t going well,” Frost said he told officers when they arrived at the scene. “I thought it was best to cancel the ride, start over and reset. I didn’t see a point in sitting in the vehicle with that kind of tension and upset customer for 35 minutes.”
He told The Oregonian that he didn’t realize who Hardesty was until he heard her giving her full name to the officers.
“She was just another passenger,” Frost told the paper. “I treat everybody the same. I try to be professional.”
“She was not a pleasant person,” he noted. “That has nothing to do with her political position as a Portland council person. I’m out here doing my job. She was very disrespectful to me, made me uncomfortable. I don’t feel like I have to sit in a car for anyone to have to argue unrelentingly and be rude and abusive, telling me what I have to do in my own vehicle.”
Another Lyft driver arrived at the same time as the officers, and Hardesty ultimately rode off in the second car.
But she wasn’t about to let the situation go, The Oregonian reported.
Hardesty filed a complaint with the company later that night, accusing Frost of potentially putting her in harm’s way.
“The driver came to the wrong pick up location. He then blamed me,” she alleged, according to The Oregonian. “I asked him to roll the window up on my side and he started to yell, ‘I can’t because the regulations require each window to be cracked (which isn’t true).”
Hardesty claimed Frost pulled over “in the dark on the side of a gas station” and told her the ride was over.
“I had no interest in being left on the side of the road by an angry driver,” she wrote.
Hardesty said she called police after he threatened to do the same.
“It is totally inappropriate to expect a woman to get out of a vehicle in the dead of night because any angry person demands it,” the commissioner declared. “This is a safety issue for your customer. Your driver was in no danger.”
According to The Oregonian, a member of the Lyft Safety Team responded to Hardesty’s complaint.
“As a reminder, 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,” the team member wrote. “We encourage everyone using Lyft to be respectful of others. This helps maintain a safe and inclusive community.”
Frost told KOIN that he is now considering getting a dashcam to record his interactions with customers.