ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Uber driver who killed a passenger on St. Patrick’s Day says he feared for his life when he opened fire. Video of Clayton Benedict’s interview with police was shown in District Court on Monday, as a judge decided he’ll be tried for voluntary manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder.
After Benedict killed James Porter on I-25 near Montano that day, he told investigators the only reason it happened was because Porter was out of control.
Investigator: “What do you think would’ve happened if you didn’t shoot him?”
Benedict: “I think he would’ve got into my car, hit me or attempted to hit me, or gone straight onto traffic and injure other people because he was quite intoxicated.”
Benedict told police he was giving Porter and another passenger a ride home when Porter’s friend vomited in the backseat. He says he decided to pull over along the interstate after Porter began arguing over a cleanup fee.
Benedict claims all three got out of the car, Porter started coming after him, and Benedict pulled out a gun. That’s when he says Porter tried to hop back into the car to get behind the wheel.
The Uber driver says he opened fire on Porter after he threatened to run him over.
“He proceeds to start getting in my car and at that point, I’m thinking, he’s going to run me over with my car, and that’s when I decided to shoot through the driver’s side window,” said Benedict.
Investigators asked Benedict why he didn’t just get back into his car once the argument escalated. Benedict said he wasn’t sure, but thought maybe he was distracted by Porter at the time.
Benedict’s attorneys are arguing the case should not move forward since the Uber driver acted in self-defense. Judge Neil Candelaria decided he’ll go to trial for voluntary manslaughter, which carries up to six years in prison.
Benedict was charged with second-degree murder, which would’ve carried up to 15 years behind bars.