Former Rideshare Driver Convicted of Vehicular Manslaughter


News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón

August 2, 2018
Twitter: @GeorgeGascon
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SAN FRANCISCO – Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that a jury found Syed Muzaffar, age 61, of Union City, guilty of vehicular manslaughter.  The incident resulted in the death of a 6-year-old girl and injuries to the girl’s mother and 3-year-old brother.


"We have a responsibility to each other when we get behind the wheel,” said District Attorney George Gascón.  “It’s imperative that we all slow down and remain completely alert when operating a vehicle.  Far too much is at risk, and our city is more congested than ever.”


According to court records, at approximately 8 PM on December 31, 2013, Uber driver Syed Muzaffar was driving on Ellis Street in his vehicle, a Honda Pilot SUV.  He made a right turn on to Polk Street, and upon entering the crosswalk he struck and fatally injured six-year old Sophia Liu.  Sophia’s mother suffered a major injury to her head, and Sophia’s three-year-old brother was also injured.  


According to court records, after striking Sofia, Muzaffar reversed his vehicle back over her body before exiting his car.  Though police and paramedics responded, they were unable to save Sophia.  She passed away approximately 30 minutes after the collision.


Muzaffar was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. A jury found Muzaffar guilty of vehicular manslaughter after two days of deliberation.


"This family had their lives turned upside down," said Assistant District Attorney Thomas Ostly. "San Francisco’s first responders came together that night to try and save this little girl, and many of them remain profoundly affected by Sofia’s death."


San Francisco’s city agencies have worked collaboratively to spread the word and reduce traffic fatalities through CCSF’s Vision Zero campaign.  In fact, due to investments in traffic safety and public education, pedestrian fatalities in 2017 were the lowest since the city began keeping track in 1915.  Nonetheless, the city continues to work towards ending injuries and deaths on our streets.


This successful prosecution is the result of an excellent investigation conducted by San Francisco Police Department Officer Wesley Villaruel, Sgt. Eric Mahoney, Sgt. Kevin Edison and Sgt. Kevin Stancombe.  The Honorable Kay Tsenin presided.  Special thanks go to Victim Advocate Peter Chung.  Assistant District Attorney Thomas Ostly prosecuted the case.