FULTON COUNTY, GA – An Uber Eats driver wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a customer over the weekend shot the victim in self-defense, the suspect’s attorney said Monday.
Robert Bivines, 36, turned himself into authorities around 3 p.m. on Monday after police secured a warrant for his arrest on a felony murder charge, Atlanta Police said.
Bivines was taken to the Fulton County Jail and booked on the felony murder charge related to the killing of Ryan Thornton, 30, of Atlanta, police said.
Police said the shooting happened about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in the city’s Buckhead neighborhood after the victim, identified by the Fulton County medical examiner’s office as Thornton, placed a food order via his smartphone app.
“The victim went down to meet the driver, received his order and began walking away from the vehicle,” police said. “As the victim was walking away, it appears words may have been exchanged between he and the delivery driver. Shots were apparently fired from the delivery vehicle, striking the victim.”
The driver fled in a white Volkswagen, police said.
Defense attorney: Client carried a gun for safety
Bivines’ attorney, Jackie Patterson, said his client had trouble finding Thornton’s address to make the delivery. Once he found the address, Thornton came down visibly upset and snatched the food from Bivines’ hand, according to Patterson.
There was a verbal altercation after Thornton screamed a profanity toward Bivines, the attorney said.
Patterson said Bivines then saw Thornton turn around and reach into his jacket pocket.
Thornton allegedly told Bivines that he was going to “F***k you up,” Patterson said. Fearing for his life, Patterson says Bivines shot Thornton.
Asked why his client fled, Patterson said Bivines was traumatized and panicked in the moment. “He got scared,” Patterson said.
Patterson said that even though Uber Eats’ policy is to not allow drivers to carry weapons, his client carried a weapon with him for safety.
Uber Eats is a food delivery service in which a driver picks up food orders from participating restaurants and delivers them to customers.
“We are shocked and saddened by this news,” Uber Eats said. “We are working with Atlanta Police, and our hearts go out to the families of those involved.”
The company said its “goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and reliable ride.”
“That’s why Uber prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms of any kind in a vehicle while using our app.”