‘He Was Flailing and Fighting!’ Cop Who Removed United Passenger Speaks Out

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By AP | 11:59 am, April 25, 2017

The doctor who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago this month was verbally and physically abusive, causing his own injuries, according to an official police report released for the first time.

The Chicago Department of Aviation on Monday released the aviation officer’s report of the incident in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press.

The report reveals that the passenger, David Dao, was flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest.

It is the first time the officer’s version of what happened aboard the plane at O’Hare International Airport on April 9 has been shared.

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 incident reports also reveal for the first time the names of the four officers involved in the incident which left Dr Dao with a concussion and other injuries. Authorities initially declined to identify the officers involved.

The officers were identified as James Long, Mauricio Rodriguez Jr., Steven Smith and Sgt. John Moore.

All four of those officers have been placed on administrative leave by the Chicago Department of Aviation, city records say, according to the LA Times. The newspaper also added that city records show two of the officers had previously been disciplined for workplace violations.

Mr Long had been suspended from his job for five days in March for ignoring a supervisor’s orders to keep vehicles from driving into a restricted area of the airport, according to documents provided by the city of Chicago.

Mr Moore had previously been disciplined at least seven times from 1999 to 2009 for failing to show up for work without notifying a supervisor, according to city records.

The video filmed by another passenger sparked an uproar on social media. Picture: Audra D. Bridges via AP
The video filmed by another passenger sparked an uproar on social media. Picture: Audra D. Bridges via AP. Source:AP


In the report, Mr 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 aeroplane to make room for four employees to fly to Louisville, Kentucky.

Mr Long said he approached Dr Dao to ask the 69-year-old physician to get off the plane. He said the doctor refused and “folded his arms tightly.” Mr Long then reached out to “hold” Dr 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,” Mr Long wrote.

Dr Dao then knocked Mr Long’s hand off his arm, causing himself to fall and strike his mouth on an arm rest on the other side of the aisle.

Mr Rodriguez’s description of the incident was similar.

“The subject then started flailing his arms and started to fight with Ofc. Long,” he wrote in the incident report.

Mr Long said he then dragged Dr Dao because he refused to stand up. Mr 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 Dr Dao being dragged by his arms down the aisle of the plane aisle as the other passengers react with horror.

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

But Dr Dao’s lawyer, Chicago personal injury lawyer Thomas Demetrio, called the incident reports “utter nonsense. Consider the source”, according to the LA Times.

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

Mr Long said he was able to remove Dr Dao from the aeroplane, but once they were off the plane and in the walkway back to the gate, Dr Dao said he was a diabetic. However, he then got up off the floor and ran back onto the aircraft.

Mr Long alleges Dr Dao, while running back to the plane, said they’d have to kill him. He 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 Dr Dao belligerent.

Mr Munoz later offered a more emphatic mea culpa, saying: “No one should ever be mistreated this way.”

This article was originally published in news.com.au