A dramatic video has surfaced of law enforcement officers from Miami Dade Police Department struggling to detain and arrest a disruptive passenger onboard an American Airlines flight. Officers were forced to use a Taser on the man after physical restraint failed to subdue the passenger.
The incident apparently occurred on American Airlines flight AA2446 from Miami International Airport to Chicago O’Hare on Sunday evening. In a statement, American said the drama unfolded while the Boeing 737-800 aircraft was still at the gate after a “disagreement” between two passengers.
The airline says flight attendants asked the “instigating passenger” to get off the plane but when he refused staffers followed company policy by deplaning all the passengers. Unfortunately, American says a fight broke out and police were called to the aircraft. The airline describes the man’s behaviour as “combative” – resulting in him being arrested by law enforcement.
According to YouTube user Jordan Liss, who has uploaded a video of the arrest from a just a few seats rows back, the disagreement started after the man sexually assaulted a female passenger and made racist remarks towards an American Airlines gate agent.
The 2.30-minute video clip shows around five police officers from the Miami Dade Police Department struggle to arrest the disruptive passenger in the cramped confines of the single-aisle aircraft. The distinctive crackle of a Taser stun gun being discharged can be heard on at least 4 separate occasions – one discharge of the 50,000-volt device lasts for approximately 17-seconds.
American Airlines has confirmed that the passenger was arrested and has said it will be cooperating with the authorities. They thanked their cabin and ground teams for their “excellent work” in the situation – the flight departed Miami just over an hour later than scheduled.
In the official police report, arresting officers say they discharged the Taser stun gun on 10 separate occasions, lasting a total of 50-seconds after one of the ‘prongs’ failed to make proper contact with the man. The suspect, Jacob Garcia of Chicago, Illinois was arrested on suspicion of battery, resisting a police officer and disorderly conduct.
In a concerning twist of events, Garcia was also arrested for attempting to deprive an officer of his handgun after attempting to grab hold of the officers gun on at least two occasions.
Officers who responded to the incident say removing Garcia from the aircraft was made more complex because the suspect was able to wedge his legs and body between the seats of the aircraft.
The incident again calls into question how law enforcement personnel (and even flight attendants) should react to disruptive passenger behaviour. When all else has failed, physical restraint may be required – and that’s not easy in the unique environment of an aircraft cabin.
Would the five officers involved in this incident had such a struggle if the restraint had taken place outside? Probably not.
That’s part of the reason why a security officer involved in the infamous United Airlines Dr Dao incident is suing both United and the City of Chicago. He claims he was given inadequate training in methods to safely remove a passenger from an aircraft cabin – Dr Dao was left with a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth after James Long, the sacked security officer dragged him from his seat.
Interestingly, despite all aircraft cabins looking very similar – all with the same hazards and problems – there’s no uniform method for either law enforcement or flight attendants to restrain an unruly passenger.
While Korean Air has taken the very unusual approach of issuing cabin crew with Taser’s, other airlines might only have duct tape and rope to help tie down a violent aggressor.