A heartbreaking incident unfolded in El Paso, Texas, resulting in murder charges against a Kentucky woman who fatally shot an Uber driver, mistakenly believing she was being kidnapped.
The driver, 52-year-old Daniel Piedra Garcia, tragically lost his life, leading to the upgraded charges against the perpetrator. On June 16, Phoebe Copas, a 48-year-old resident of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, was a passenger in Garcia’s Uber vehicle.
According to the El Paso Police Department, initial findings from the investigation suggest that Copas became alarmed, suspecting she was being taken to Mexico while en route to El Paso’s Mission Valley.
Based on an arrest affidavit, Copas grew increasingly distressed upon seeing signs indicating “Juarez, Mexico,” the city across the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso.
In her fear of being kidnapped and taken to Mexico, Copas allegedly retrieved a handgun from her purse and shot Garcia in the head. Although the Uber vehicle eventually crashed into barriers on a freeway, it was nowhere near a bridge or port of entry to Mexico.
Police reports indicate that there is no evidence to support the occurrence of a kidnapping or that Garcia deviated from Copas’ intended destination.
After the shooting, Copas purportedly took a photo of Garcia’s injured state and sent it to her boyfriend via text message. During the incident, Copas was visiting her boyfriend in El Paso.
Garcia was rushed to a local hospital following the shooting, where he remained on life support for several days. Tragically, his family made the difficult decision to withdraw life support after doctors determined he would not recover. Initially charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, Copas was held on a $1 million bond.
However, Garcia’s passing led to an elevation in charges against Copas, who now faces a murder charge. Her bond has been set at $1.5 million.
Garcia’s niece, Didi Lopez, shared memories of her “hardworking” and “funny” uncle with the El Paso Times. She recalled his positive outlook on life, kindness, and ability to uplift others in their moments of need.
As Garcia was the sole provider for his family and had recently returned to work following a previous job-related injury, his loved ones have launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist with expenses. At present, Uber has not responded to requests for comment regarding the incident.
This tragic case serves as a solemn reminder of the severe consequences that can arise from misunderstandings and highlights the importance of communication in preventing such devastating outcomes.