An Uber Eats driver claims he was acting in self-defense when he killed a customer during his first week on the job. Robert Bivines, 36, arrived at the Atlanta condominium of 30-year-old Ryan Thornton around 11:30pm Saturday after a $27 food order was placed at Tin Lizzy's through the Uber Eats app, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WXIA. Thornton "went down to meet the driver, received his order and began walking away from the vehicle," says a police rep. But after an exchange of words, Thornton, a recent Morehouse College graduate, walked back toward Bivines' white Volkswagen, according to surveillance video. The same video recorded footage of four shots fired through the car's passenger-side window, police say. Thornton, who was struck in the torso, died later at a hospital.
Bivines, now charged with murder, surrendered to police on Monday with his lawyer telling WXIA that he feared for his own life. Attorney Jackie Patterson says Thornton was upset about the delivery time—Bivines had trouble finding the condo—and "jerked" the food from Bivines' hand. After walking away, Thornton returned to the vehicle, put a hand in his pocket, and told Bivines, "'I'm going to f--- you up,'" Patterson says, per WGCL. "My client had no choice but to defend himself," he tells WXIA. "He simply panicked because he didn't know what to do." Calling the incident a "senseless act of violence," Uber Eats says Bivines violated a policy banning firearms, per USA Today. And though he passed an Uber background check, the Journal-Constitution notes it wouldn't have revealed a 2009 aggravated assault charge. Bivines pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of battery.