Albuquerque Uber Driver Charged With Murder of Passenger

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
July 3, 2019US News
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Albuquerque Uber Driver Charged With Murder of Passenger
Site at Interstate 25 near Montaño where Uber driver Clayton Benedict shot and killed a passenger after an argument on March 17. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/The Albuquerque Journal/AP)

An Albuquerque Uber cab driver who shot and killed his passenger on March 17 has been charged with second-degree murder by the Bernalillo County district attorney on Monday, July 1.

Court papers submitted by the district attorney last week showed that a quarrel about “a huge amount of vomit,” and the cleanup costs led cab driver Clayton Benedict to fatally shoot 27-year-old James Porter on St. Patrick’s Day five times in the back, according to the Albuquerque Metro.

According to the district attorney’s search warrant affidavit, obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, Benedict picked up Porter and his boyfriend, Jonathan Reyes, from the Salt Yard bar on Osuna near San Mateo NE, on the evening of March 17.

At a certain point, Benedict told detectives, when they were riding on the southbound Interstate 25 near Montaño, Reyes vomited in the car. He had six or seven drinks that day, although he reportedly hardly ever drank.

“At this point, the other passenger and Clayton start to go back and forth about a potential ‘clean-up fee,’” the detective wrote in the affidavit. “James is the male arguing/pleading with Clayton not to charge him for a ‘clean-up fee.’”

Benedict stopped the car and asked the men to get out of the vehicle. He said he awarded Porter a review of “one star.” He said that Porter slammed the door.

“Clayton opens his driver door and steps out stating ‘hey man, don’t slam my door,’” the detective wrote in the affidavit. “James walks around the car and starts to yell at Clayton; he flips his shoes off, throws his hat down, and hurls his sunglasses at Clayton. At this time Clayton pulls his handgun from his holster and tells James ‘to stop, back up.’”

Benedict said Porter kept yelling at him, saying, “You’re not going to shoot me,” and Porter started to run away from him.

Benedict said he also turned away from Porter, but then Porter returned and came up to him saying, “Well if you’re not going to shoot me, I [am] going to run you over with your own car.”

Benedict said he fired “an unknown amount of rounds” toward Porter’s “center mass” and that Porter collapsed and died on the spot.

Police later found six bullet casings scattered near the driver’s side door and a handgun a few feet away.

“Jonathan had no recollection of the incident involving James,” a detective wrote in the affidavit. “Jonathan did not know that there had been an altercation. Jonathan was in complete shock when he was informed of the news that James had been killed.”

Benedict has not been charged yet. Following his interview, he was released from jail. The investigation, however, continued.

Last month a complaint was filed by Porter’s family, Uber, and Benedict. It stated that the driver’s “actions were intentional, reckless, and malicious such that an award of punitive damages against Benedict is justified.”

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