The two policemen at the centre of the United Airlines row have officially been fired
Earlier this year, United Airlines got themselves in a bit of hot water after a video showed an incident in which a plane passenger was dragged from his seat after Flight 3411 was overbooked.
The man was 69-year-old doctor David Dao, who was one of the randomly selected passengers the airline forced to leave the aircraft in order to make room for four crew members. The April incident shocked the world after widely shared footage showed how violently the man was removed from the aircraft by aviation security officers. The incident caused the American airline a PR disaster, which saw their stocks briefly drop by $900 million.
And now, the story has resurfaced after an official update was released on Tuesday. A report by Chicago inspector general Joseph Ferguson noted that the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) fired the officer responsible for escalating a non-threatening incident, which resulted in “a physically violent and forceful removal of a [Dr Dao] aboard United Airlines Flight 3411.”
Dr Dao was dragged through the plane, clouted and bloodied, and the report stated that “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.” The report confirmed that the offending officer was fired.
A second officer was fired after it was found they deliberately omitted important facts from a report about the incident. Two further officers involved were given five-day suspensions. Both filed grievances, and one had their suspension reduced to two days, while the other resigned shortly after filing theirs.
Ferguson's investigation also identified “significant confusion” about the role of unarmed aviation security officers in managing security at O’Hare and Midway Airports. It comes after earlier this year, Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans announced that Chicago’s force of 292 unarmed aviation police officers would have their roles minimized, updated training procedures and the word “police” removed from their badges, uniforms, and vehicles.
Although the two officers were fired and one resigned due to their role in the incident, Dr Dao's attorney, Thomas Demetrio, said: “This is not a day of celebration for Dr. Dao, who is neither vindictive nor happy about Mr. Ferguson’s findings."
He added that passengers should retain the right to record what is going on when they travel, and bluntly implored "police officers of all levels" not to "make stuff up" in their reports.
“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. But for the video, the filed report stating that only “minimal” force was used would have been unnoticed. Simply put, don’t make stuff up.”
Dr Dao was left humiliated, adding to his facial injuries and a sinus problem that will require surgery. He has already agreed to a settlement with United for an undisclosed sum of money. Further, United said it would try to reduce incidents of overbooking, and in the case of needing to remove passengers from flights offer them up to $10,000.