Woman who coughed on San Francisco Uber driver pleads not guilty

A woman who was caught on video coughing on and grabbing an Uber driver in San Francisco who ended the ride because she wasn’t wearing a mask has pleaded not guilty to assault and other charges, authorities said.

Arna Kimiai, 24, entered pleas Monday to felonies of assault and attempted first-degree robbery along with misdemeanor charges of battery on a transit employee and violating a local health ordinance. She remains free on bail pending a May 3 hearing.

Kimiai is accused of attacking Subhakar Khadka, 32, on March 7 after he had picked up three passengers in the Portola district but then stopped the car because he noticed she wasn’t wearing a face mask, which was required under anti-COVID-19 health orders.

Video provided by the driver showed a maskless woman, later identified as Kimiai, coughing on him, grabbing his cellphone and ripping off his face mask.

Police also said that as three women exited the vehicle, one sprayed what was believed to be pepper spray toward the driver.

Kimiai surrendered to police a week after the attack and also apologized on social media.

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Another woman, Malaysia King, was arrested last month in Las Vegas on a warrant from California accusing her of assault with a caustic chemical, conspiracy, assault and battery and a health and safety code violation.

A third woman wasn’t charged but Uber said it had banned all three riders.