An Uber driver in Massachusetts was arrested on kidnapping charges after allegedly trapping a woman inside his vehicle on Thursday, March 18, 2021.
The incident occurred in Brighton, around 8:30 p.m., near 1139 Commonwealth Avenue. Kamal Essalak, 47, of Acton, was later arrested on Saturday, March 20, near 7323 Avalon Drive. He is expected to be arraigned today in Brighton District Court.
According to the Boston Police Department, a woman contacted law enforcement to report that she had requested an Uber via the app. When she entered the vehicle, Essalak began behaving strangely. As a result, she requested to be dropped off and let out of the vehicle. Essalak stopped the vehicle, but when the woman attempted to exit, she discovered the child safety locks had been enabled on both rear doors.
To draw attention to what was happening, the woman began screaming and banging on the window. As she did this, the driver began to climb into the back seat while laughing. The passenger was able to slide around Essalak, get into the driver’s seat, unlock the door, and escape the vehicle.
Uber confirmed Essalak was driving for them. In a statement from the company, they noted removing the driver’s access to the platform and contacting the victim. A spokesperson told NBC Boston, What’s been reported is horrifying and something no one should have to go through. We appreciate Acton Police Department’s quick actions that helped lead to an arrest in this case.”
The Boston Police Department is advising all rideshare passengers to take a moment to see if child safety locks have been enabled in the vehicle they request. The safety locks are located on the inside panel of the rear doors on most modern vehicles, below the latch mechanism. They are small and often made of dark-colored or black plastic, making them difficult to see in dark conditions.
In an effort to help victims of this type of crime or instances of assault, Uber launched a survivor resources hotline last year. The hotline provides immediate, confidential and trauma-informed support for passengers reporting critical sexual assault incidents related to the Uber app. According to a spokesperson, the hotline is staffed by RAINN support specialists and helps survivors better understand their short- and long-term support options. This includes therapy, service providers, and filing a police report. The company also has a team of former law enforcement professionals who are on call to work with police to respond to urgent needs.