Emails Show Cab Company Lawyer Demanded Police Action Against Uber

NBC 5 investigation sheds new light on why Dallas police used vice officers to target car service app

A Dallas cab company asked city officials to have police officers ticket the drivers with UBER, the popular car service phone app, according to documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates.

A stack of internal city hall emails obtained by NBC 5 Investigates shows how badly Dallas Yellow Cab Co. wanted the city to go after Uber.

Uber is a smartphone application that can be used to order a car to your location and automatically charges your credit card. The company maintains its service is legal, but some city leaders question if it is skirting city regulations that apply to cab and limousine companies.

In one email dated July 16, a lawyer for Yellow Cab pleads with Interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez and Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata, "Come on, get DPD to write tickets to Uber or stop charging permits to the cab company's! This isn't right. This is your area of responsibility."

[Eds. note: The spelling company's is in the original document.]

The email trail goes all the way back to January. The cab company's lawyer urged Gonzalez and Zapata to treat Uber like an unlicensed cab company. In May and June, emails show that the lawyer asked Gonzalez to have city prosecutors get involved. By July, undercover police were ticketing Uber drivers.

Dallas police cited more than 30 Uber drivers for operating an unauthorized taxi service.

Uber customer Doug Pickering, who says he uses the service five to 10 times per week, said he wonders if police were used to help a private company get a leg up on a competitor.

"It's very questionable -- and it's not fair," he said.

Mayor Mike Rawlings also has questions. He launched his own investigation after learning city staff quietly drafted a new ordinance that would make it nearly impossible for Uber to operate in Dallas.

At City Hall, a spokesman for city managers Gonzales and Zapata told NBC 5 Investigates that "it would not be appropriate for city staff to respond to your specific question at this time due to the mayor's ongoing inquiry."

There's no word yet on whether the mayor has seen the internal emails, including one dated July 24 from Yellow Cab's attorney in which he asked for an update on the progress of the police sting.

"My clients are losing business, are suffering large financial losses," the lawyer wrote. "Please clarify the status of enforcement of the code and progress to date. We are bleeding!"

NBC 5 Investigates also learned that the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System has $9 million invested in a fund that owns a minority stake in Yellow Cab.

Rawlings said that he will issue his investigation findings on Oct. 16.

Attempts to reach Yellow Cab's attorney for comment were not successful.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company was not surprised to learn a cab company would lead the charge to limit transportation choices in Dallas.

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