Assaulted Lyft driver: $7 ride almost 'cost me my life'

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The suspect in an alleged hate crime appeared in court on Friday. (KTRK)

The Harris County District Attorney's Office has charged a man for an alleged hate crime attack on a Lyft driver in Houston.

The incident happened on the morning of July 21 on the Northwest Freeway.

Eyewitness News spoke with the driver, who wanted to remain anonymous.

"He asked me if that was my Muslim name," the driver said. "He asked me, 'What kind of name is that? Your parents couldn't be more creative.' He made fun of my name."

According to prosecutors, Matthew W. Dunn, 39, caused bodily injury to a driver who is Middle Eastern.

The driver said things escalated after Dunn stayed in the car after they reached his original drop-off location. "I start driving on 290 feeder, and he said, 'Oh, now I understand why God sent me to Houston. God gave me a task for tonight. I have a plan for you.'"

The driver said the conversation continued. "I'm going to rip your head from your body. As I heard this, I opened my door, and he grabbed me with my hair. Pulled me from my hair. Choking me from the left arm, and he started punching me on the right."

Under Texas law, Dunn faces enhanced punishment for allegedly assaulting a person based on prejudice against a group identified by race, religion or national origin.

"We came through Harvey because of the cooperation of our diverse communities and their willingness to help each other without regard to race, creed or color," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "A hate crime unleashes fear in an entire community."

Dunn spoke with Eyewitness News in court Friday. He said he defended himself after the Lyft driver went in circles.

As for the Lyft driver, he's done with the ride-sharing service.

"It's not worth it," the driver said. "I mean, the ride was $7, but it almost caused me my life."

Dunn faces a minimum of 180 days in jail if convicted of Class A assault and a hate crime.

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