A Springfield plastic surgeon has been charged with felony assault after allegedly choking a deaf and mostly nonverbal Uber driver early Saturday morning.
Bharat Shah, 56, was charged with third-degree assault and faces one to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Online court records say Shah is a doctor.
According to the probable cause statement, a Greene County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the area of Farm Road 141 just after midnight Saturday to a report of an assault.
Shah, the caller, reported that his Uber driver would not stop hitting him and that he was going to kill the driver.
When the deputy arrived, the Uber driver said he picked Shah up at the Inner Circle bar in downtown Springfield and was taking him home.
The driver said Shah, who was riding in the backseat, reached his arm around the driver’s neck and began to choke the driver. The driver told the deputy that he momentarily lost consciousness, but was able to stop the vehicle and get out.
The driver had no visible injuries, the statement said, but he reported pain and soreness in his neck.
The deputy wrote in the statement that Shah admitted to putting his arm around the driver’s neck because he thought the driver wasn’t going to take him home. The deputy wrote that Shah said the driver was “never going to make it to where he was going” and that the driver’s behavior “was not normal.”
Two witnesses told the deputy that they observed Shah putting his arm around the driver’s neck and said they observed the driver gasping and struggling to breathe.
The driver is deaf, mostly non-verbal and communicated with the deputy by written statements, the statement said.
Joe Passanise, Shah’s attorney, was asked by KY3 if Shah realized the driver was deaf.
“It was news to us to learn of the information that he had a hearing impairment, so that is part of this ongoing process of investigation,” Passanise said.
Shah was released on his own recognizance.