This morning, everyone with an internet connection learned that if they fly on United Airlines, they run the risk of being forcibly ejected from their seat and left covered in blood. Now, the Chicago Department of Aviation says that one of the officers involved in the incident has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
Image: Facebook/Audra D. Bridges
According to Reuters:
The officer -- one of three involved in the Sunday night incident -- did not follow protocol, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Aviation, and as a result "has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation."
Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports are patrolled by two police forces. Both the Chicago Police Department and the city Department of Aviation Police are present, and the latter agency is unarmed. It appears that the officers involved in dragging the 69-year-old passenger from his seat were members of the Department of Aviation Police. Oddly, an earlier statement on the incident came from the Chicago PD, and it left much to be desired:
Chicago PD statement on the United passenger is a model of why so many people don't trust police statements pic.twitter.com/Xs3HjCpJos
— Harry Siegel (@harrysiegel) April 10, 2017
The most notable part of the Department of Aviation's statement is that it appears to admit that this situation was not handled correctly. "The actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department," it reads. Normally, if an employee is placed on leave pending an investigation, official statements don't pass judgement on the incident.
The initial outrage over the altercation was sparked by a tweet from a different passenger named Tyler Bridges who was on board and recorded the incident on his phone. The victim claimed to be a doctor who needed to see patients in the morning. More videos of the man being handled appallingly popped up, and we learned that United was attempting to eject paying customers from the flight in order to make room for an employee on stand-by.
In an official statement, United's CEO said that everyone at the company was "upset" and he apologised "for having to re-accommodate" customers. If United's idea of accommodating passengers is leaving a senior citizen with blood running out of his mouth and begging for someone to "just kill me", I'd hate to see what happens when they decide to not be accommodating.
— Kaylyn Davis (@kaylyn_davis) April 10, 2017