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United passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

Published: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 @ 8:08 AM
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Other passengers who watched as Chicago Department of Aviation security officers boarded a United flight and dragged a man away from the plane are speaking up about what they saw.

“None of us believed that it could get to that point of violence,” said John Klaassen, an instructor at Boyce College in Lousiville. “When the police came on, they were just determined to take him off of the plane. There was no negotiating.”

Passengers watched, and filmed, as officers pulled  a man from his seat on Kentucky-bound United Flight 3411 on Sunday and dragged him up the aisle toward the plane’s door as others shouted in protest.  He continued to resist, and ran back onto the plane with a bloody face.

The Courier-Journal has identified the passenger as David Dao, a doctor from Elizabethtown, Ky.

“He hit his face when they initially dragged him off, as you guys saw,” said passenger Jayse Anspach in a CNN interview. “It was 10 minutes later, he comes running back in and runs to the back, his face bloody, and just clings to the post in back and just saying, ‘I need to go  home, I need to go home, I need to go home.”

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The incident began when United asked for four volunteers to give up their seats to allow four crew members to travel to work another flight in Louisville. No one volunteered, so the airline was forced into an “involuntary de-boarding situation,” according to a United statement.

“Once they dragged the guy off, the United employees come on the plane,” said passenger Tyler Bridges. “The other passengers were just berating the employees, saying things like ‘You should be ashamed of yourself. You should be embarrassed to work for this company.’”

An internal email from United CEO Oscar Munoz circulated to employees said he “emphatically” stands behind them, that the man who was removed from the flight was “disruptive and belligerent” and that United would be conducting a detailed review of what happened.