Uber Driver Released After Being Arraigned On Kidnapping Charge

An Uber passenger claims her driver, 47-year-old Kamal Essalak, locked her in the back seat. WBZ-TV's Mike LaCrosse reports.

Video Transcript

DAVID WADE: Police say a former Uber driver is free tonight after he was charged with kidnapping a woman. Police say that Kamal Essalak locked that woman in the back of his car and then tried to climb into the back seat with her.

LISA HUGHES: But the suspect's attorneys are saying that police have it all wrong. WBZ's Mike LaCrosse live in Boston to explain why. Mike?

MIKE LACROSSE: Dave and Lisa, the suspect's attorney says it's all a misunderstanding and that his client has been driving for Uber for years without any issues.

- She told police she felt something was off right away.

MIKE LACROSSE: An Uber passenger claims her driver, 47-year-old Kamal Essalak locked her in the back seat shortly after being picked up on Commonwealth Ave in Boston last Thursday night.

- The driver said, quote, "Hey, babe," and said, how this was going to be an hour-long ride when it was only around the corner.

MIKE LACROSSE: Prosecutors say Essalak jumped into the backseat with the woman.

- And said that while she was screaming and hitting the window to get out, the defendant said that he was just kidding. And he was periodically laughing.

MIKE LACROSSE: The woman was able to escape from through the front seat.

THOMAS CHIROKAS: And we're going to take it one step at a time, and we'll be back here in May.

MIKE LACROSSE: Essalak pleaded not guilty to a single charge of kidnapping then walked out of Brighton District Court on Monday.

THOMAS CHIROKAS: There is a distinct language barrier here. I do think that there was a great misunderstanding.

MIKE LACROSSE: His defense attorney calls the allegations sensational and says his client has completed thousands of Uber trips over the last four years without any complaints.

- He's good. He's good. He's a good guy. He have two kids. He's a good guy.

- He does groceries for my kids. He help us. He does so many stuff. He's a good friend, and I know for sure he's innocent.

MIKE LACROSSE: Uber says it immediately removed Essalak as a driver following the allegations. He has been ordered to stay away from the alleged victim. Reporting live in Boston, I'm Mike LaCrosse, WBZ News.