Two aviation police officers who were captured on video April 9 forcibly removing a passenger from a packed United Airlines flight in Chicago have been fired after video of the incident went viral around the world, showing the passenger bloody and bruised.
The reason: they lied in their reports about the incident.
Footage from another passenger’s cell phone camera shows the officers dragging 69-year-old Dr. David Dao by his arms and legs down the aisle and off the plane bound for Louisville, Kentucky before it departed the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Dao suffered a broken nose and lost teeth during the incident, which sparked widespread public outrage.
Now, Dao’s attorney says there’s a lesson to be learned from the fired officers.
“It is unfortunate the conduct of these two city aviation employees has resulted in their losing their jobs,” Dao’s attorney Thomas Demetria said in a statement.
“There is a lesson to be learned here for police officers at all levels. Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world,” Demetrio explained. “But for the video, the filed report stating that only ‘minimal’ force was used would have been unnoticed.”
A City of Chicago of Inspector General Investigation found aviation security employees made “misleading statements and deliberately removed material facts from their reports.”
Acting on the inspector general’s findings, the aviation department recommended firing the officer “who improperly escalated the incident.”
Officials said the sergeant “involved in the deliberate removal of facts from an employee report” was also fired.
“The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose and the loss of two teeth,” aviation officials
It started when gate agents asked passengers on the flight to voluntarily give up their seats for a United employee crew that needed to meet up with another flight.
Dao, along with his wife, agreed to take a later flight until learning the next flight wouldn’t depart until the following day.
United offered to compensate passengers willing to give up their seats. But when nobody volunteered, Dao was apparently chosen at random.
He refused, telling the officers he is a physician and needed to attend to patients at work the next morning.
Two other officers involved in the incident received short-term suspensions, but none of the officers’ names have been released.
On Tuesday, Demetrio told the AP that he and his client didn’t anticipate the security officer who is not a sergeant being terminated, but that it may send a message to others.
“In firing him, perhaps it will send a clear message to police and airline personnel all over the world that unnecessary violence is not the way to handle passenger matters,” he said.
Dao has since reached an undisclosed settlement with United Airlines over the incident.
Moving forward, United announced changes to its overbooked flight policy, and now allows supervisors to offer up to $10,000 in vouchers for passengers that give up their seats.
The incident prompted other airlines to reconsider their overbooking policies.
Southwest announced it would no longer overbook flights.
Delta now also offers up to $10,000 to passengers who volunteer to give up their seats of overbooked flights.