Officer Put On Leave After Man Was Bloodied, Forcibly Removed From Flight At O'Hare Airport (Updated)
By Rachel Cromidas in News on Apr 10, 2017 2:45PM
Update: 2 p.m.:
The Chicago Department of Aviation told Chicagoist in a statement said that the actions of one security officer "are obviously not condoned" by the Department and that the person in question has been put on leave.
"The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department. That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation."
Video also surfaced of the man with blood dripping across his cheek and down his chin. "Just kill me," he appears to repeat, visibly distraught.
Update, 12:45 p.m.:
Oscar Munoz, United Airlines CEO, apologized "for having to re-accommodate these customers," in a statement released on Monday.
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0— United (@united) April 10, 2017
Munoz said the United is working with authorities, running its own internal review and "reaching out to this passenger." Meanwhile, the CEO's use of "re-accommodate" language is really, really not going over well.
A Louisville-area man's flight home from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport turned violent Sunday evening after he was forcibly removed from his flight. A video of the skirmish between him and authorities went viral.
In the video, the man is heard screaming in his seat as at least two airline authorities surround him, grab him and drag him by the arms across the aisle of the plane. His glasses appear to be broken, and a woman is seen in the video shouting, "My God, what are you doing? Oh my God, look at what you did to him!"
The video was posted around 7:30 p.m. Central Time by Audra D. Bridges, who was traveling with Tyler Bridges on the flight. She explained in a Facebook post that United had overbooked the flight, and airline staff began "randomly selecting people to kick off." The man in the video, Bridges wrote said he was a doctor and that he had to be at a hospital in the morning for work. "He did not want to get off [the plane]. We are all shaky and so disgusted," she wrote.
Twitter user Jayse D. Anspach also shared a similar video of the incident:
A United spokesperson told the Courier-Journal via email that the passenger was taken off Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville because it was overbooked. "After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. "We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities," the statement provided to the Courier-Journal said. United also Tweeted about the incident:
So @united is basically saying; "We asked for volunteers and no one said yes, so we called the cops." #6— Anonymous (@USAnonymous) April 10, 2017
@USAnonymous the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. ^MD— United (@united) April 10, 2017
As Bridges told the Courier-Journal, the airline apparently needed four passengers to give up their seats so that four "must-fly" employees could ride. The airline initially offered money and rewards for passengers to volunteer to get off the plane, but no one did, so the airline had a computer randomly select four passengers, including the man. The man refused to leave multiple times, and said he was calling his lawyer, even after three officials came to talk to him. As Bridges tells it, one official "came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane."
Perplexingly, the man was able to get back on the flight before it took off:
The man was able to get back on the plane after initially being taken off — his face was bloody and he seemed disoriented, Bridges said, and he ran to the back of the plane. Passengers asked to get off the plane as a medical crew came on to deal with the passenger, she said, and passengers were then told to go back to the gate so that officials could "tidy up" the plane before taking off.
Anspach also tweeted a series of tweets about the incident confirming Bridges' account. He described the attack on the doctor in more detail, writing that the man's "face was slammed against an arm rest, causing serious bleeding from his mouth. It looked like he was knocked out, because he went limp and quiet and they dragged him out of the plane like a rag doll." Ten minutes later, Anspach writes, "the doctor runs back into the plane with a bloody face, clings to a post in the back, chanting, "I need to go home."
@WHAS11 A couple air port security men forcefully pulled the doctor out of his chair and to the floor of the aisle.— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
@WHAS11 In so doing, the doctor's face was slammed against an arm rest, causing serious bleeding from his mouth.— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
@WHAS11 It looked like he was knocked out, because he went limp and quiet and they dragged him out of the plane like a rag doll.— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
@WHAS11 10mins later, the doctor runs back into the plane with a bloody face, clings to a post in the back, chanting, "I need to go home."— Jayse D. Anspach (@JayseDavid) April 10, 2017
A United spokesperson told Chicagoist that the man was removed by police, not airline security. A representative from the Chicago Police Department of Aviation did not immediately return a request for comment. Check back for updates.