Officer: Man removed from United flight with ‘minimal’ force

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. Video of police officers dragging the passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked an uproar Monday on social media, and a spokesman for the airline insisted that employees had no choice but to contact authorities to remove the man. (Audra D. Bridges via AP)

(NBC News/AP) — Authorities on Monday released a series of documents detailing the moment a Kentucky doctor was dragged off a United Express flight in Chicago earlier this month.

The reports from Chicago police and the Chicago Department of Aviation detail what happened before, during and after Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from a plane.

Dao, a physician, was bloodied and dragged off the United Express plane by Chicago airport officers who had been summoned by United employees when Dao wouldn’t give up his seat. The incident was captured on now-viral video and the three officers involved have been suspended.

In an incident report released by the Chicago Department of Aviation, one officer claimed Dao told them “I’m not leaving this flight that I paid money for. I don’t care if I get arrested.”

Another officer wrote that Dao was removed with “minimal but neccesary [sic] force.”

After the officers dragged Dao through the aisle, he allegedly ran back onto the aircraft and into the galley of the plane but he hung onto a pole and said, “I’m not getting off the plane. Just kill me. I want to go home,” according to the report.

Dao’s lawyer revealed in an interview with “Today” Monday morning that he plans to file a lawsuit in the case. Attorney Thomas Demetrio said the 69-year-old suffered a “significant concussion,” a broken nose and lost two front teeth.

“There’s other video that does show that he’s calmly in his seat,” Demetrio told “Today.” “His ticket was accepted, scanned, he boarded, he was seat belted and all the video shows him quietly saying, ‘I want to go home. I’m not getting off.’ And interestingly, you can’t do that. After someone is in their seat that’s not the time to say, ‘We’re overbooked or we need to get an employee from point A to point B.’”

According to a memo released by the CDA Monday, aviation security officers were instructed to “thoroughly review the policy and procedures” for use of force.

“As indicated in the directive, ‘the safety of innocent persons and officers is of paramount importance,’ and employees are expected to have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the ‘Use of Force’ policy and procedures when interacting with passengers, employees, vendors and other stakeholders at the airport,” the memo read.
The CEO of United Airlines said last week no one will be fired over the incident — including himself.

CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday that he takes full responsibility “for making this right,” and he promised more details later this month after United finishes a review of its policies on overbooked flights.

United has been pummeled on social media — #BoycottUnited is a popular hashtag — and late-night television.

Munoz and other executives have vowed to treat customers with dignity and said that what happened to Dao will never happen again.

Munoz’s early statements on the incident were widely criticized. He initially supported employees and blamed Dao, calling him “disruptive and belligerent.”

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press, the aviation department released the officer’s version of the April 9 incident for the first time and named the officer for the first time.

In his report, officer James Long said that Dao was flailing his arms.

Long says when he pulled Dao from his seat, Dao knocked his arms away, fell and struck his mouth on an armrest. The report doesn’t detail Dao’s injuries.

Meantime on Tuesday, Munoz was asked if the company ever considered firing anyone, including management.

“I’m sure there was lots of conjecture about me personally,” said Munoz. He noted that the board of United Continental Holdings Inc. has supported him.

“It was a system failure across various areas,” Munoz continued. “There was never a consideration for firing an employee.”

United announced two rule changes last week, including saying that it will no longer call police to remove passengers from overbooked planes. It is not clear whether United oversold Flight 3411, but the flight became overbooked when four Republic Airline employees showed up after passengers had boarded and demanded seats so they could commute to their next assignment, a United Express flight the next morning.

Some politicians and consumer advocates have called for a ban on overselling flights. Munoz declined to address that or other possible changes until the airline finishes a review by April 30.

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