Springfield doctor charged with assaulting deaf Uber driver

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield doctor is facing charges after attacking his Uber driver.

Dr. Bharat Shah is charged with third-degree assault for choking his deaf driver.

Investigators say on Saturday, May 7, deputies responded to a 911 call around 12:30 a.m. on Farm Road 141 and Arlington in Greene County. Dr. Shah told dispatchers his Uber driver wouldn’t stop and that “he was going to kill the driver.” Investigators say the driver only communicates by written statements.

We asked Shah’s attorney, Joe Passanise, if his client knew that.

“It was news to us to learn of the information that he had a hearing impairment, so that is part of this ongoing process of investigation,” Passanise says.

Jamie McGranahan has a deaf child and advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing community. McGranahan says Uber is an excellent company for the deaf and hard-of-hearing jobs.

“The deaf community is always looking for those opportunities to be the same, to be equal people as everyone else, and so they deserve to live, learn, work and play in the community,” McGranahan says. “When they are trying to have an income and an employment and not feel safe in those environments, that’s scary, and that’s challenging.”

Shah, a prominent Springfield plastic surgeon, got an Uber from a downtown bar.

The driver told deputies he was taking the doctor home.

With Shah sitting behind him, investigators say that’s when Shah wrapped his arm around the driver’s neck and began to choke him.

The driver told deputies he had lost consciousness, but after waking up, he could stop the car and get out.

Authorities didn’t see any visible injury, but the driver complained of pain and soreness in his neck.

Investigators say Shah admitted to putting his arm around the driver’s neck, saying he thought he wouldn’t make it home.

McGranahan asks people to educate themselves on the deaf and hard of hearing community and what they can do to be more supportive.

“I think maybe we can take this as a moment to become more aware of a culture that is living right here in Springfield and to really develop those inclusionary opportunities,” McGranahan says.

Passanise also sent KY3 this statement:

Dr. Shah enjoys an excellent reputation in our community with no prior criminal record as a prominent plastic surgeon. This was an unfortunate incident involving an Uber driver the other evening. There were no visible signs of injury, according to law enforcement. Dr. Shah is truly embarrassed and humbled by the attention that has been brought to him and his family.

Shah has a private practice in Springfield, but he had privileges at Mercy.

Mercy sent KY3 this statement:

In light of the current circumstances, Dr. Shah’s privileges at Mercy are suspended pending further review.

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