reader comments 137
Aviation authorities late Monday released police reports about the Kentucky doctor who was violently removed from a United flight earlier this month. The officers involved painted a picture that differs from the viral videos of the incident taken by other passengers.
The videos of the April 9 incident, which were posted on social media and broadcast on news sites across the world, have sparked global outrage at United, which at first defended the incident but later apologized.
The police reports, released from Chicago’s Department of Aviation in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Los Angeles Times and other news outlets, say 69-year-old passenger David Dao was flailing his arms and being verbally abusive. The officers involved suggested that it was Dao’s fault that he struck his face on an armrest, which broke his nose, knocked out his two front teeth, and gave him a concussion before a flight from Chicago to Louisville.
Officers at first asked Dao to leave the plane to make room for United crew members. He refused, the report said, and all hell broke loose. One of the officers said he tried to pull the man out of his seat with the assistance of two other officers. “The subject started swinging his arms up and down with a closed fist,” one of the officers said in a report. Another officer grabbed the man, but he “started flailing and fighting,” the report says.
Next, according to the police report, Dao pushed away an officer’s arm. This “caused the subject to fall, hit, and injure his mouth on the armrest on the other side of the aisle.” Another officer corroborated that account.
None of this is visible on the videos that passengers posted online. The videos show some type of skirmish and then an officer dragging the bloody man out of the plane to the backdrop of a passenger screaming about the ordeal. One video shows Dao saying, “No I’m not going. I am not going.” An officer responds, “Well, we’ll have to drag you.”
Dao is going to sue United. The police reports and passenger accounts are likely to play a big role in that litigation.
Dao’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, conceded that the videos don’t mean this is an open-and-shut case. “It’s just not a matter of throwing the video up and asking the jury, ‘OK, who wins,'” Demetrio said earlier this month.
The four officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.