Documents tell different story on removal of passenger from United Airlines flight

by WorldTribune Staff, April 26, 2017

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that the passenger who was dragged off a United Airlines plane on April 9 fought with officers who were trying to remove him.

The new information included audio of the original call to the Chicago Department of Aviation police, personnel reports about the officers involved and an incident report that appeared to blame passenger David Dao for his own injuries.

A bloodied David Dao on the April 9 American Airlines flight.

Judicial Watch received the documents from the City of Chicago in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

An incident report says an officer identified as James Long attempted to remove Dao from the flight. The officer, it says, “attempted to assist the subject off his seat with two hands, but the subject started swinging his arms up and down fast and violently.”

After Long pulled Dao from his seat, the report continues, “the subject then started flailing his arms and started to fight with Officer Long. Due to this incident, the subject was able knock Officer Long’s right hand off the subject’s arm.”

“Consequentially, the subject fell and hit his mouth on the armrest across from him,” the report adds.

Dao’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, said his client may need surgery after suffering a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth.

Demetrio called the report “utter nonsense. Consider the source.”

In a memo dated April 17 that was also obtained by Judicial Watch, the aviation police department instructed its security officers to review its policy for the use of force, emphasizing the directive that “the safety of innocent persons and officers is of paramount importance.” All four officers involved in the Dao incident have been placed on administrative leave.

The department also released audio of the original call in which the airline asked for help.

“Two passengers are refusing to get off the aircraft when instructed by the agent and also the supervisor,” an airline employee tells the police dispatcher. He could not give a description of the passengers.

“Any information on were they drinking, were they doing anything like that?” the dispatcher asks a later in the recording.

“No, it’s something with an oversold and didn’t volunteer or something like that,” the United employee responds.

The April 9 flight was not oversold. United wanted to make seats available for a flight crew that needed to be in Kentucky for flights the next morning. When no volunteers stepped forward to leave the plane, four people were selected and told to leave. Two complied, but Dao refused, saying he had patients to see the next day.

Multiple passengers made videos of the incident in which Dao was dragged out of the plane. He was later seen returning to with a bloodied mouth. He was eventually removed in a stretcher.

“Judicial Watch recognizes the broad public interest in the removal of Mr. Dao from the United Airlines flight,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These records provide a dramatically different account of the incident than seen on the infamous video.”

Ginger Evans, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, said on April 24 that she was unhappy that the agency’s police officers were made to remove Dao, suggesting that it was not an appropriate task for the officers.