The Taco Bell executive who was fired after allegedly drunkenly attacking an Uber driver is "extremely remorseful" for the incident that was the subject of a viral video, and now wants to apologize to the driver in person, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Ousted fast-food exec Benjamin Golden's mea culpa came a day after he was sued over the incident by Uber driver Edward Caban, and after California prosecutors lodged upgraded criminal charges against Golden.
An attorney for Golden, who was allegedly intoxicated at the time of the incident, told CNBC.com that Golden doesn't even remember attacking Caban last Friday night during a ride. Caban blasted Golden in the face with pepper spray after getting pummeled, the video shows.
"He is definitely in the process of seeking counseling to understand why this happened," said Courtney Pilchman, lawyer for the 32-year-old Golden.
Golden is "hugely remorseful and very upset that he conducted himself in the way that he did," said Pilchman. "He wants Mr. Caban to know how deeply remorseful he is."
"Mr. Golden recognizes that despite his level of intoxication, he should have never slapped Mr. Caban and is extremely remorseful for his actions," Pilchman and her co-counsel, Anita Kay, said in a prepared statement.
"Mr. Golden accepts full responsibility for his actions and understands the consequences that may occur as a result."
A dashboard camera video of the attack was posted earlier this week by Caban, 23, on YouTube, generating more than 2 million views, at least one of which was by Golden himself.
"He does not remember the event," Pilchman said. "He didn't know exactly what he was arrested for. He has seen the video, but he has no recollection of it."
"His comment was that he doesn't even recognize the person in this video," said Pilchman. She confirmed that Golden was fired by Taco Bell after the company became aware of the incident.
Pilchman said Golden "is one of the most gentle, kind people that I have met, and this entire event is an anomaly of his life."
She also said that despite the way he appears in the video relative to Caban, Golden is not a large man.
"He's like five-nine, and if he weighs 150 pounds I'd be surprised," Pilchman said.
Pilchman said she has reached out to Caban's lawyer to ask that the driver meet privately with Golden so that he can apologize. She has not heard back yet.
A meeting might be difficult. Caban reportedly is still so frightened of Golden that he's been sleeping next to a shotgun.
"I'm paranoid," Caban told KABC TV, Los Angeles. "I keep waking up in the middle of the night. I think I hear something. I keep the shotgun next to the bed now, and I'm honestly afraid that he's going to come after me."
Pilchman told CNBC that Caban's comment "is so beyond ridiculous."
Caban's lawsuit, which seeks damages in excess of $25,000, was filed Tuesday in Orange County (California) Superior Court.
CNBC broke the news Monday that Golden, who had been leading Taco Bell's mobile commerce and innovation initiatives, lost his job after his arrest. Golden earlier had spent more than seven years working for Taco Bell's parent, Yum Brands.
"Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us," Taco Bell said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Monday. "We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help."
The YouTube video posted by Caban, which was taken from a camera mounted on his Uber car's dashboard, shows Golden in the back seat Friday night at around 8 p.m.The video reveals Caban repeatedly and unsuccessfully asking Golden for driving directions.Caban flips his camera around to show the inside of the car, and Golden topples over in the back seat with an audible thud as the driver makes a left turn.
In the video, Caban eventually pulls over and orders Golden out the car, saying he is "too drunk" to give Caban directions. The driver warns that he will call police if Golden doesn't get out. It's at that point that the confrontation becomes violent.
Golden has been banned permanently from using Uber as a result of the incident, according to the company.
Golden's LinkedIn account is no longer available, and his Twitter link was blocked from public sight, but on a cached version of his Twitter page, he describes himself with a simple statement: "Sushi lover. Bourbon drinker. The end."
Watch the original dashcam video here (offensive language).