Early on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, a 31-year old Afghan refugee was shot and killed inside the car he drove for Uber.
Ahmad Fawad Yusufi, who worked as a translator for the U.S. Army before coming to the United States around three years ago, was in San Francisco to drive for Uber when he was shot and killed, Mohammad Dawood Mommand, his brother, told Protocol. He left behind his wife, his brother and three children, including a child under one year old. Mommand will now be the sole provider for his brother’s family as well as his own three children.
While Uber told journalists in early December that Yusufi was not driving for the company at the time of his death, his family said that Uber was lying to the press in a letter sent via email to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and other executives this morning.
“On November 28th, my brother Ahmad was killed while driving for your company. You lied when you told the press that he wasn’t working for Uber at the time he was killed. He was in San Francisco to work for Uber.” Mommand wrote in the letter.
Uber told Protocol that Yusufi was not driving for Uber at the time of his death and that his last trip was the previous night. “We’re saddened by this senseless act of violence that took Mr. Yusufi’s life. Our hearts go out to his family during this difficult time," an Uber spokesperson wrote in an email.
Yusufi and his brother both lived in Sacramento and regularly drove to San Francisco to drive for Uber and Lyft, often spending nights sleeping in their cars in order to save the cost of a hotel room. Sleeping overnight in their cars is a common practice for the drivers who work full-time hours, especially immigrant drivers, according to Mommand. Some Uber and Lyft drivers have reported getting caught in the crossfire of rising violent crime seen in some cities over the last year, and organizing groups like the Independent Drivers Guild have been pushing the gig-work companies to provide more protection for their drivers.
“Hundreds of Afghan drivers drive from Sacramento to San Francisco each week and sleep in their cars in unsafe environments – just to earn enough each week to provide for their families. My brother and I did the same,” Mommand wrote.
The letter also demands $4 million in immediate financial aid from the company, as well as access to Yusufi’s Uber account. Mommand told Protocol that Yusufi’s account was locked after his death and that the family has been unable to access his information to confirm any of the circumstances surrounding his death. The family is asking for financial aid not just as recompense for his death, but also because Yusufi was the sole breadwinner before his death, and his wife does not speak English. “Right now, really, I cannot give two rents for my brother’s house and me also. I have three kids, too. I moved them already in my house,” he said. Mommand has started a GoFundMe to help shoulder the financial burden.
According to Uber, the company has been in touch with his family and is working to restore access to Yusufi's account.
Mommand also had a message for other gig drivers and for refugees specifically: “Please look for another job, don’t work anymore with Uber. Since his death, no one has called the family, no one has said anything,” he told Protocol. “They know we are refugees and know nothing really.”
The person who shot Yusufi has not been identified or arrested.