She Thought Uber Driver Was Kidnapping Her, Shot Him

Phoebe Copas is now charged with murder in Texas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2023 7:56 AM CDT

A Kentucky woman visiting her boyfriend in Texas is now charged with murder after police say she shot an Uber driver she wrongly feared was kidnapping her. According to a complaint affidavit cited by USA Today and the Washington Post, Daniel Piedra, 52, who'd started driving for Uber only a few weeks previously, was driving 48-year-old Phoebe Copas on June 16 to a casino in southeast El Paso to meet up with her boyfriend when things went awry. Cops say that Copas started seeing signs for Juarez, Mexico, which is across the border from El Paso, during her ride and for some reason got the idea she was being abducted and taken over the border.

Investigators say Copas then pulled a firearm out of her purse and shot Piedra several times, causing their Nissan Maxima to crash into road barriers before coming to a halt on US 54. Per a release from the City of El Paso, cops there received a call about the shooting shortly after 2pm, and when police arrived at the scene, they say Copas' boyfriend was there helping her out of the vehicle. According to the affidavit, Copas dropped everything she was holding, including a silver-and-brown handgun. Piedra, found slumped over in the driver's seat with multiple bullet wounds to his head, was taken to a local hospital. His family took him off life support a few days later.

Authorities say Copas didn't try to call the cops before the shooting, or immediately afterward. Instead, they say she first texted her boyfriend a photo of Piedra, then called 911. The site where the car crashed was "not in close proximity of a bridge, port of entry, or other area with immediate access to travel into Mexico," the affidavit notes, adding that the route that Piedra was taking was a typical one used to get to Copas' destination. In a statement to NBC News, Uber says it's "horrified" by the shooting and that it will cooperate with the investigation.

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Copas, who was originally charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, saw those charges upgraded to murder after Piedra's death, per the city's release. Copas remained at the El Paso County Jail as of Sunday, her bond set at $1.5 million. Meanwhile, a GoFundMe set up by Piedra's wife had gathered nearly $70,000 as of Monday morning, per People. "I wish [Copas] would've spoken up, asked questions, not acted on impulse," Piedra's niece, Didi Lopez, tells USA Today, adding, "We just want justice for him. That's all we're asking." (More Uber stories.)

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