High-profile case of Beavercreek Lyft driver killed during robbery: What happens next?

Multiple lawsuits are pending in connection to the death of a Beavercreek Lyft driver last year, including criminal cases involving two teenaged suspects and a civil suit filed against multiple defendants, including Lyft and the two suspects.

Brandon Cooper, 35, was shot early on Jan. 26, 2022, during an attempted robbery in Dayton after a group of teens reportedly used the Lyft rideshare app to hire Cooper for a ride.

More than a year after Cooper’s death and at least three lawsuits are pending. Here’s where the cases stand and what’s next.

What happened?

  • Dayton police responded to Ferguson Avenue around 2 a.m. Jan. 26, 2022, after a vehicle’s OnStar system reported a possible crash. Officers found Cooper dead inside the vehicle. He reportedly was shot in the back.
  • Investigators determined the homicide was connected to a robbery earlier that morning after a different Lyft driver reported her phone, wallet and car were stolen.
  • Police found the stolen vehicle around 3 a.m. on Anna Street. When officers approached a house three people refused to come outside, prompting a SWAT standoff. Four juveniles eventually were taken into custody.

Who is facing charges?

  • Two teen boys were charged in Cooper’s death. Both boys, who were 15 at the time of the shooting, initially were charged in juvenile court with aggravated robbery and aggravated murder. The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion in February 2022 for both boys to be tried as adults. Two other juveniles suspected in the incident were found to be amenable to treatment in the juvenile system.
  • Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Helen Wallace approved the case of one of the suspects, Da’Trayvon Mitchell, to be transferred to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. A grand jury indicted the teen on murder, aggravated robbery, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, grand theft of a motor vehicle and discharge of a firearm on a public road or highway charges.
  • On Sept. 6, Wallace approved for the second teen to be transferred to common pleas court. Tylan Peaks was indicted on murder, aggravated robbery, grand theft of a motor vehicle, felonious assault and tampering with evidence on Sept. 20.

What’s happening in the civil lawsuit?

  • Cooper’s family filed a civil suit in December against Lyft, both teen suspects and five John and Jane Does who are Lyft employees responsible for the company’s protocols and policies.
  • The lawsuit claims Lyft was negligent and caused Cooper’s death and that the company fails to implement effective safety measures to protect drivers. It also argues Lyft didn’t use all available safety features, such as forcing users with anonymous payment methods to verify their identity.
  • In March, Lyft filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming in part that the company has no legal duty to protect against third party acts that were not foreseeable.
  • In a memo opposing the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff claimed Lyft’s argument that it has no duty or ability to keep dangerous people from using its program goes against what the company tells the public regarding safety measures. It said Lyft ignored multiple signs Cooper was in danger and that the company chose to ignore signs that Dayton drivers were in danger.
  • Lyft filed a response May 8 stating the company offers multiple payment options to support users who may not have access to traditional finance services. It added it cannot tell whether a passenger will commit a violent crime based on the form of payment linked to that account. Lyft also said a string of non-fatal and non-injurious phone thefts in the Dayton area was not a clear sign the account used in Cooper’s death posed a threat.

What is next?

  • An order finding Mitchell competent to stand trial was filed May 8 in common pleas court. No other hearings are on the docket at this time.
  • Peaks is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 26.
  • Both Lyft and Cooper’s family have filed responses to a motion to dismiss the civil case against Lyft. Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman has not issued an order rejecting or accepting the motion to dismiss and no other hearings have been set at this time.

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