The Taco Bell executive who was fired after allegedly drunkenly attacking an Uber driver is "extremely remorseful" for the incident that was the subject of a viral video, and now wants to apologize to the driver in person, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Ousted fast-food exec Benjamin Golden's mea culpa came a day after he was sued over the incident by Uber driver Edward Caban, and after California prosecutors lodged upgraded criminal charges against Golden.
An attorney for Golden, who was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the incident, told CNBC.com that Golden doesn't even remember attacking Caban last Friday night during a ride. Caban blasted Golden in the face with pepper spray after getting pummeled, the video shows.
"He is definitely in the process of seeking counseling to understand why this happened," said Courtney Pilchman, lawyer for the 32-year-old Golden.
Golden is "hugely remorseful and very upset that he conducted himself in the way that he did," said Pilchman. "He wants Mr. Caban to know how deeply remorseful he is."
"Mr. Golden recognizes that despite his level of intoxication, he should have never slapped Mr. Caban and is extremely remorseful for his actions," Pilchman and her co-counsel, Anita Kay, said in a prepared statement.
"Mr. Golden accepts full responsibility for his actions and understands the consequences that may occur as a result."
A dashboard camera video of the attack was posted earlier this week by Caban, 23, on YouTube, generating more than 2 million views, at least one of which was by Golden himself.
"He does not remember the event," Pilchman said. "He didn't know exactly what he was arrested for. He has seen the video, but he has no recollection of it."
"His comment was that he doesn't even recognize the person in this video," said Pilchman. She confirmed that Golden was fired by Taco Bell after the company became aware of the incident.
Pilchman said Golden "is one of the most gentle, kind people that I have met, and this entire event is an anomaly of his life."
She also said that despite the way he appears in the video relative to Caban, Golden is not a large man.
"He's like five-nine, and if he weighs 150 pounds I'd be surprised," Pilchman said.
Pilchman said she has reached out to Caban's lawyer to ask that the driver meet privately with Golden so that he can apologize. She has not heard back yet.
A meeting might be difficult. Caban reportedly is still so frightened of Golden that he's been sleeping next to a shotgun.
"I'm paranoid," Caban told KABC TV, Los Angeles. "I keep waking up in the middle of the night. I think I hear something. I keep the shotgun next to the bed now, and I'm honestly afraid that he's going to come after me."
Pilchman told CNBC that Caban's comment "is so beyond ridiculous."
Above: Details of new charges lodged Tuesday by prosecutors against ousted Taco Bell executive Ben Golden
Caban's lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $25,000, was filed Tuesday in Orange County (California) Superior Court.
The suit accuses Golden of "assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress," according to a story posted online by KABC TV.
The suit reportedly also says that Golden's conduct "was extreme and outrageous and beyond the bounds of what any person should reasonably have to endure."
Golden also was slapped Tuesday with further criminal charges that put him at risk of spending up to a year behind bars and paying a $10,000 fine.
The Newport Beach resident Golden was charged with four misdemeanor counts by the Orange County District Attorney's office a day after a YouTube video of the incident with the ride-sharing service driver went viral.
The DA accused Golden of assault on public transportation property, battery on a public transit employee with injury, assault, and battery.
Golden originally was charged with misdemeanor assault and public intoxication by Costa Mesa police.
"Based on the evidence, we filed the charges we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt," Roxi Fyad, spokeswoman for the Orange County DA's office, told CNBC. Fyad said the video of the attack factored into the decision to charge Golden with the additional criminal counts.
Golden did not respond to messages requesting comment left by CNBC at multiple phone numbers and email addresses.
The DA's office said in a statement that it would seek a $20,000 bail for Golden. He currently is free on $500 bail that was set following his arrest on Friday for allegedly attacking Caban. Golden is scheduled to be arraigned on the new charges Nov. 17.
CNBC broke the news Monday that Golden, who had been leading Taco Bell's mobile commerce and innovation initiatives, lost his job after his arrest. Golden earlier had spent more than seven years working for Taco Bell's parent, Yum Brands (YUM).
"Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us," Taco Bell said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Monday. "We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help."
The YouTube video posted by Caban, which was taken from a camera mounted on his Uber car's dashboard, shows Golden in the back seat Friday night at around 8 p.m.
The video reveals Caban repeatedly and unsuccessfully asking Golden for driving directions.
Caban flips his camera around to show the inside of the car, and Golden topples over in the back seat with an audible thud as the driver makes a left turn.
In the video, Caban eventually pulls over and orders Golden out the car, saying he is "too drunk" to give Caban directions. The driver warns that he will call police if Golden doesn't get out. It's at that point that the confrontation becomes violent.
Golden has been banned permanently from using Uber as a result of the incident, according to the company.
Police records show that Golden was arrested on July 8, 2012, in Louisville, Kentucky, on charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
According to a police report obtained by CNBC, Golden had bloodshot eyes and "fumbled through paperwork looking for registration."
"When asked, subject stated that he had come from the 'Big Bar' and had a couple of drinks, stating two," the report said. "When pulled out of car, subject changed story to 'three beers.' "
Golden then failed a field sobriety test, according to the report. He pleaded guilty to the charge a month later and received a sentence of 30 days in jail, 26 days of which were conditionally discharged, according to the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case.
Golden's license was also suspended for one month, the prosecutor's office said.
Golden's LinkedIn account is no longer available, and his Twitter link was blocked from public sight, but on a cached version of his Twitter page, he describes himself with a simple statement: "Sushi lover. Bourbon drinker. The end."
Watch the original dashcam video here.
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