Chicago – Aviation Officer Gives His Version Of United Flight Removal, New Video Shows Moments Before Incident


    This Sunday, April 9, 2017, image made from a video provided by Audra D. Bridges shows a passenger being removed from a United Airlines flight in Chicago. (Audra D. Bridges via AP)Chicago – The physician who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago this month was verbally and physically abusive, and flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest, according to the aviation officer who pulled the man out of his seat.

    The Chicago Department of Aviation on Monday released the officer’s report of the incident, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press. The report reveals for the first time the officer’s version of what happened aboard the plane at O’Hare International Airport on April 9.

    New surveillance video, obtained by NBC News, shows the moments leading up to the incident. Dispatch recordings were also released, detailing the first calls of an incident aboard the flight. An ambulance is later seen arriving to the plane.

    The incident — which was videotaped by other passengers and widely shared online — became an international embarrassment for both the airlines and the city’s aviation department.

    The report also includes the name of the officer, James Long, who authorities initially declined to identify.

    In the report, Long said he boarded the United Express flight after being called in response to a disturbance involving two people regarding a refusal to leave the aircraft. United has said four passengers had been ordered off the airplane to make room for four employees to fly to Louisville, Kentucky.

    Long said he approached Dr. David Dao to ask the 69-year-old physician to get off the plane. Long said Dao refused and “folded his arms tightly.” Long said he reached out to “hold” Dao and was able to pull him away from his window seat on the aircraft and move toward the aisle.

    “But suddenly the subject started flailing and fighting,” Long wrote.

    Dao then knocked Long’s hand off his arm, causing the struggling Dao to fall and strike his mouth on an arm rest on the other side of the aisle, according to the report. Long said he then dragged Dao because Dao refused to stand up.

    Long said he wrote the report and gave his version of events only because he faced losing his job.

    The video taken by a passenger shows lots of screaming coming from behind the seats, then Dao being dragged by his arms down the aisle of the plane as the other passengers react with horror.

    In a separate report released Monday, labeled a “Hospitalization Case Report,” the Chicago Police Department said Dao was observed striking his face against an armrest as aviation officers “attempted to escort” him from the flight.

    Neither report details Dao’s injuries, but at a news conference days after the incident, Dao’s attorney said the doctor suffered a broken nose and a concussion, and lost two front teeth.

    Long said he was able to remove Dao from the airplane. Long said that once off the plane and in the walkway back to the gate, Dao said he was a diabetic, but then got up off the floor and ran back onto the aircraft. Long alleges Dao, while running back to the plane, said they’d have to kill him.

    Long and two other aviation officers were subsequently placed on leave by the aviation department.

    The report jibes with comments that United CEO Oscar Munoz made in the aftermath of the incident, in which he called Dao belligerent. Munoz later offered a more emphatic mea culpa, saying: “No one should ever be mistreated this way.” The aviation department has also profusely apologized and vowed an investigation

    Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, told NBC’s “Today” show on Monday that he intended to file a lawsuit.

    The aviation department also released its use of force policy, which was sent to all officers after the incident. It says aviation security personnel should use force only when “reasonably necessary to defend a human life, effect an arrest or control a person,” and that the force used “shall only be that which is necessary to overcome the resistance being offered by an offender and to effect lawful objectives.”

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    1. If I was manhandled like that I’d also be flailing & fighting. What, he should just sit there and be assaulted? Clutching at straws a bit, aren’t they?

    2. “Long said he wrote the report and gave his version of events only because he faced losing his job.” Sounds like nonsense.

      Long’s alleged statement violates standard protocols in all law enforcement agencies…written “Incident Reports” are required in all use of force incidents, by all personnel who were involved in or witnessed the incident. Period.

      You happen to catch me right after a long meeting reviewing the March use of force incident reports of my agency.

    3. The reports by the burly security guards,(who were technically not police officers), somehow don’t pass the smell test. In 2001, Richard Reid (aka, the Shoe Bomber), tried to blow up an American Airlines flight over the Atlantic. He was restrained by 6-8 passengers, and he still put up quite a fight. Yet, he did not sustain a broken nose, or missing teeth. I think those security guards used excessive force; their so-called reports justifying their brutality, are a bunch of garbage. We’ve seen this happen time and time again. A few years ago, a Jewish woman on the way to Phoenix, on a Jet Blue fight, witnessed a loud verbal altercation between a hostile Black woman (whose unruly child kept kicking the seat of a passenger in front), and a White male. The woman took a personal affront that he dared criticize her angel child. The Jewish woman filmed the incident on her camcorder. When the flight attendant asked her for the tape, she refused to give it to her, as legally, it was hers. The flight attendant retaliated, by having the Phoenix police arrest the woman. One of them shoved her down a flight of stairs at the airport. I told her to sue the airline; I don’t know if she did.


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