Instances of societal violence often exhibit preceding signs of erratic behavior in the individuals involved. This pattern was held in the case of Jason Dalton’s shooting rampage in Kalamazoo on the evening of February 20, 2016, claiming six lives and injuring two. Matt Mellen had an unexpected encounter with the shooter just hours before the violent spree commenced, and he sensed that something was amiss. Featured in ABC’s ’20/20: The Deadly Ride,’ Mellen shares his firsthand account of the encounter and recounts the events that raised red flags, prompting him to recognize the impending danger.
What Happened to Matt Mellen?
On the evening of February 20, 2016, Matt Mellen requested an Uber ride for himself and his girlfriend, aiming to visit a friend’s house. Jason Dalton arrived to pick them up in a silver Chevrolet Equinox. In his recounting of the incident for the episode, Mellen described how Dalton’s behavior took a disturbing turn after receiving a phone call during the ride. Dalton started driving recklessly, reaching speeds of 50 to 60 miles per hour, careening through medians, driving across a lawn, ignoring a stop sign, and even sideswiping another car.
Throughout this chaotic ride, Mellen repeatedly shouted at Dalton to stop. After successfully convincing Dalton to stop by pretending to have reached his destination when he was still a mile away, Matt Mellen exited the car feeling extremely scared. Subsequently, he attempted to contact Uber’s 24/7 support to report Dalton’s reckless driving and request that he be barred from the platform.
Despite Mellen’s efforts, he claims that he received no assistance, and Dalton continued to accept rides throughout the night. He also made a call to 911 and said, “Hi, I’d like to report a crazy driver. I just got an Uber to my friend’s house. On the way there, he was driving erratic on West Main. He hit a car, he drove through the woods, and I finally just jumped out.” Just an hour after dropping off Mellen, Dalton initiated the first shooting, and the events that unfolded over the next five hours in Kalamazoo remain etched in the memory of the entire nation.
Where is Matt Mellen Now?
In September 2021, Matt Mellen took legal action against Uber, Raiser (Uber’s technology subsidiary), and Jason Dalton. In the lawsuit filed in the Michigan Federal Court, Mellen asserted that he experienced survivor’s guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder due to his inability to reach Uber’s support, preventing Dalton from causing harm to others. Mellen argued that despite Uber’s website advertising a 24/7 incident response team, they failed to provide adequate assistance in his case as he had tried to reach them for over an hour. The lawsuit aimed to hold Uber accountable for the repercussions of their alleged negligence in responding to Mellen’s urgent concerns.
Uber responded to the allegations by stating that Mellen’s report of irresponsible driving did not take priority, emphasizing that complaints about bad driving could be subjective and might not warrant immediate action. Uber explained that suspending someone’s Uber license over subjective judgments would be unfair. However, the company clarified that if Mellen had reported something related to violence, it would have been given priority, resulting in the deactivation of Dalton’s Uber account.
In March 2023, Matt Mellen’s case was presented in the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan, resulting in Jason Dalton being dismissed from the lawsuit. While unverified reports were suggesting that Mellen had sought $1.2 million from Uber, official confirmation of such claims remains unavailable. Nonetheless, it is confirmed that a settlement was reached between both parties. On March 10, 2023, the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, indicating that Mellen could not file the same lawsuit again. Additionally, both parties were responsible for covering their respective attorney’s fees. The specific details of the settlement remain undisclosed to the public.
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