A woman accused of fatally shooting her Uber driver in Texas after falsely believing she was being driven to Mexico against her will has been charged with murder, authorities said.
Phoebe D. Copas, 48, of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, remained in El Paso County jail following her arrest June 16, the day the driver was shot, according to El Paso police and county jail records.
The family of driver Daniel Piedra Garcia, 52, said he was taken off life support Wednesday, NBC affiliate KTSM of El Paso reported.
Though Copas was initially booked on suspicion of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, the case was upgraded to murder after the driver died this week, according to police and jail records. Bond for Copas was increased from $1 million to $1.5 million.
An attorney assigned to defend Copas did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Detectives believe Copas was in El Paso to visit her boyfriend, according to a complaint affidavit obtained by KTSM. She was in the backseat of the Uber en route to meet him at a casino when she saw roadway signs stating “Juarez, Mexico,” which is across the border from El Paso, according to the affidavit.
Believing she was being kidnapped and taken to Mexico, Copas shot the driver, causing the vehicle, a Nissan Maxima, to strike a highway barrier and come to a stop along U.S. 54 South, police said.
Copas did not call authorities before shooting, and she didn’t summon help immediately after opening fire, the document states.
Rather, she took a photo of the injured driver and texted it to her boyfriend, detectives said in the affidavit. Then she called for help, the document states.
The boyfriend, who was not identified, went to the scene and was there as police arrived, according to the affidavit.
First responders arrived to find Piedra bleeding profusely from the back of his head, the affidavit stated. He was hospitalized in critical condition.
Multiple shots had been fired, the document states, and after Copas exited the Nissan she dropped everything she was holding, including a handgun.
“The investigation does not support that a kidnapping took place or that Piedra was veering from Copas’ destination,” police said.
In a statement about the case, Uber said it would cooperate with investigators should its help be needed, and added that it has been in touch with the driver’s loved ones.
“We are horrified by the rider’s actions,” it said.
Ana Piedra, the victim’s wife, wrote in a GoFundMe set up to help with hospital and funeral expenses that her husband was their household’s sole provider.
After doctors expressed zero hope he would survive, Daniel Piedra was disconnected from life support, she stated on the fundraising page, which was verified by the site.
Didi Lopez, the victim’s niece, told KTSM her uncle was not a criminal or a kidnapper.
“It’s so easy to go make your assumptions and just make up scenarios. But that’s not who he is,” she said. “He’s a hardworking man.”
A bond hearing was scheduled Thursday, according to a court docket for the case.