The parents of a Long Beach man who allegedly strayed into a Bluff Heights residence by mistake and was fatally shot by the homeowner are suing the shooter, Uber and an Uber driver, according to a recently filed lawsuit. They claim Uber is liable because one of its drivers ordered him out of a car, knowing he was intoxicated.
The negligence suit was filed by Long Beach residents David and Lynn Anderson on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Uber Technologies, Uber driver Festus Ekuma Okoh of Buena Park and the homeowners John Richard Reynolds and Lou Ann Reynolds.
The complaint states that on August 10, 2014 an impaired Ryan Anderson, 29, used the ride sharing app to request a driver to take him home, and that Okoh agreed to the transportation.
The suit also alleges Uber advertises itself as a company that offers transportation for inebriated passengers.
Okoh apparently witnessed signs of Ryan being extremely intoxicated, including not walking steadily, being confused and incoherent, and having a slow and slurred speech, the complaint added.
The complaint alleges that Okoh “stopped the car and ejected” Ryan from the vehicle before reaching his home.
“Ryan had not done anything that reasonably could have been perceived as a threat to Okoh’s safety,” the complaint states.
Furthermore, the claim states that Okoh admitted to leaving Ryan in a “bad,” “rough” and “dangerous” area—allegedly unsafe for people to walk around after dark—and that Okoh knew he would not be able to get home from the area in his intoxicated state.
A confused and scared Ryan then called his mother, the plaintiffs state. A short time later Ryan, who had no criminal record, mistakenly wandered into the Reynolds’ home—apparently mistaking it for his own, according to the lawsuit—at East Third Street and Gladys Avenue.
He then began arguing with John Reynolds, who went to get his gun in an effort to scare Ryan. During the altercation, John Reynolds accidentally shot Ryan, the suit states. John and Lou Ann Reynolds knew that Anderson was not a threat to them, the suit claims.
According to a previously-issued press release from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), Ryan allegedly scaled a wall to gain access into the backyard, broke a window, and proceeded to steal items from the house before John Reynolds shot him multiple times.
Officers responded to the location at about 2:30AM on a Sunday. The incident—which was reported as a burglary in progress—took place near Ryan’s residence at Newport Avenue and Third Street.
Ryan was pronounced dead at the scene. Police found personal property belonging to the Reynolds’ on him, according to the LBPD.
The Seattle-to-Long Beach transplant had left V Room at Fourth and Alamitos alone shortly before 2:00AM, according to longtime friend Jay Diebel. Police have not confirmed this information.
In interviews shortly after the incident, friends described Ryan as a pacifist and “never confrontational.”
“I am not mad at someone protecting themselves and their home—but [Ryan] wasn’t a burglar,” Diebel said. “He was a good kid. Always funny, always a good remark… But just someone who would never break into someone’s house. He didn’t need that.”
“With his beanie and beard and [being] drunk—yeah, of course he’d look suspect,” said Diebel. “Anyone would [look suspect] in a house that wasn’t theirs… I just don’t want this becoming a conversation about the rising crime in the area because that’s not what this is. It was a freak accident.”
The relationship between the Reynolds was unclear in the suit. The complaint seeks unspecified damages.
An Uber representative did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment. The Reynolds could not be reached for comment.
Above, left: file photo.