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Man Accused of Choking, Punching Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant at Denver Airport

Man Accused of Choking, Punching Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant at Denver Airport

a blue and red airplane on a runway

A man has been arrested on suspicion of punching a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in the jaw and choking her as the two rode a concourse train at Denver International Airport (DEN) according to court documents obtained by a local news station.

Jeffrey Hiers of Thornton, Colorado is currently facing a misdemeanor charge of assault following his arrest by the Denver police department at around 1:20 am on Thursday. He has since been released on a $1,500 personal recognizance bond. 

a group of people in a plane
Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines / Stephen M. Keller, 2020

According to court records obtained by 9 News, Hiers was riding the same concourse train as the flight attendant when he “just punched her in her jaw and then placed his hands around her neck and started to choke her.” 

“Other passengers intervened and removed the defendant’s grasp from the victim and had him wait for the police to arrive,” the probable cause statement of the incident continued.

It’s not known what prompted the vicious attack and it remains unclear if the flight attendant was badly injured. Sources claim the flight attendant was followed off a flight by a passenger who she had told to comply with the federal face mask mandate.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said it has “zero tolerance for any type of verbal or physical abuse of our Employees. Southwest will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities regarding this incident, and we sincerely appreciate the quick actions and kindness of the bystanders and first responders who assisted our Flight Attendant colleague.”

On Monday, the U.S. aviation industry wrote a letter to attorney general Merrick Garland pleading for the federal government to clamp down on unruly passenger behavior with the threat of jail time.

Airlines 4 America which represents some of the biggest U.S. airlines, including Southwest, said federal prosecutors should make greater use of criminal sanctions that carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.

“The federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance, the letter to AG Garland read.

There has been an explosion in unruly passenger reports since the start of the year with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now in receipt of more than 3,000 incident reports since January. Around 76 per cent of reports concern passengers who refused to comply with the federal face mask mandate.

The FAA has already handed out around $356,000 in civil penalties against 21 unruly passengers for flouting face mask rules and being disruptive but the aviation industry wants the federal government to go further by making sure rule breakers face consistent criminal sanctions.

Last month, a Southwest flight attendant had two of her teeth knocked out after being punched in the face by a passenger in a face mask dispute. Lyn Montgomery, president of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 556 branch which represents Southwest flight attendants has demanded that the airline do more to protect its workers from “aggressive” passengers.

Photo Credit: Denver International Airport

View Comments (11)
  • 10/10 this had to do with her saying something about him not wearing a mask…..just wait. This is why you keep your mouth shut and don’t start trouble with people….especially with ones you don’t know. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and guess what?…..I still have all of my teeth.

    • Whats wrong with people? I don’t care where you grew up if someone is doing a job or trying to keep themselves or others around them safe by simply asking them to comply with federal law what makes your statement ok? First if this were your mom, sister, daughter would you feel the same. It’s never ok for a man to punch choke a woman unless his life is in danger. I was a victim of domestic violence in my past relationship and no matter how she hit me I would grab her hands and call the police. This happened to me twice before I filed for divorce. I guess if you were one of the people on the train you would have turned your head and let her get chocked possibly killed because you grew up in a tough neighborhood. I didn’t grow up in a tough neighborhood I grew up in a home with a father who loved my mother his 3 daughters and 1 son and would do anything to protect them. Don’t let how you grew up affect how you deal with life move forward be better than those you grew up around. Ive since lost my mother and one of my sisters but im still blessed to have the most amazing father thats still there for my sisters and myself. So im telling you that flight attendant is someones daughter and if thats all she did was ask someone to wear a mask which is federal law so nor any other flight attendant deserves to be assaulted for doing their job. May God bless you prayers going up for you and our country God Bless America!!!

      • Do you also stand at intersections and yell at people who don’t obey the law of coming to a full stop at a red light before making a right turn? If Miss Righteous had simply minded own business she wouldn’t have gotten slammed by this guy. She expected she was going to bully this guy and that he was going to submit to the aluminum wings pinned to her chest. Problem for her is that she picked the wrong one…..a lesson she will undoubtedly carry with her the rest of her life.

        • You are mistaken, Chris. He chose the “wrong” flight attendant to mess with at the wrong time & place & he will be held accountable. What he did is aggravated assault, malicious intent against an airline employee under federal law.

          • I misread that she was on an airport tram and not onboard an aircraft engaged in her duties as a flight attendant. I’m sorry but there will be no “interference with a flight crew charge”. At best it will be an assault which will probably be cwof. She learned a valuable lesson that day. And your justice b*n*r will have to wait.

        • Difference is that flight attendant was doing her job on the plane. Even if he did not like the fact that Joe Biden has a federal law that you must wear a mask and employees have to enforce that law, he still has no right to put his hands on anyone.

  • I wonder how often this happened before the mask mandate? Maybe he was just crazy, drunk, oxygen-deprived? It’s all so odd these days. Hopefully, the CDC will get rid of this rule quickly to lessen the stress on FA’s and passengers.

    • Crews should not be put in this position but our great federal government has chosen to put them in this position.

      Chris, if you read the post you would see he follow her off the plane that he had been on and that she had advised him to wear his mask (which unfortunately is part of her job now). He should be charged with stalking too.

  • Put him in prison where he belongs…at hard labor. That will break him from this kind of behavior. Oh wait, we don, ‘t have that anymore. Cruel and unusual punishment
    . We can only expect more of the same.

  • The mask seems to be the litmus test for people’s behavior or, lack thereof.
    If you don’t want to follow the rules, don’t fly. Don’t put everyone else’s lives in jeopardy because of your lack of control & inability to follow rules. Grow up people! A flight attendant is trained to keep you, other passengers & the crew safe. The flight attendant shouldn’t have to add MMA fighting to their resume because of passenger ego issues.

  • $1500 bail and released. That is bullshit. He should be in jail. Hope the flight attendant Sue’s his ass and takes every dime she can get from this ass.

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