(Adds details from report, aviation department policy on use of
force, comment from aviation department, byline and dateline)
By Chris Kenning
CHICAGO, April 25 One of the police officers who
forcibly removed a passenger from a United Airlines
flight said "minimal but necessary force" was used in the
incident that became a public relations disaster for the
carrier, according to a report released by the city.
Video recorded by other passengers showed David Dao, a
69-year-old doctor, being dragged down the aisle with blood on
his face after refusing to give up his seat on a flight from
Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky on April 9.
Dao suffered a concussion and a broken nose, lost two front
teeth and is likely to sue the airline, according to his lawyer,
Thomas Demetrio. Initially, United did not apologize to Dao and
described him as "disruptive and belligerent." Some social media
users in the United States, Vietnam and China called for a
boycott. The carrier has since apologized several times.
Demetrio called the aviation police's version of events
outlined in the report as "utter nonsense. Consider the source,"
said the lawyer's spokeswoman, Helen Lucaitis.
In the first published version of events from the three
officers involved, aviation police officer Mauricio Rodriguez
said Dao became combative after he and two other officers tried
to persuade the doctor to leave the plane.
Rodriguez was the first officer to arrive on the scene.
Dao told the officers, "I'm not leaving this flight that I paid
money for. I don't care if I get arrested," according to the
report, released by the city on Monday,
Officer James Long described how he arrived later and tried
to pull Dao from his seat after further negotiations failed. At
that point Dao "started swinging his arms up and down with a
Long said he lost control of Dao as he swung, causing Dao to
fall and hit his mouth on an arm rest. Long then "assisted the
subject by using minimal but necessary force" to get him off the
aircraft, Rodriguez said.
Dao later ran back on the plane and held onto a pole,
stating "Just kill me. I want to go home," Rodriguez said. Dao
was then persuaded to leave so his injuries could be treated,
Officer Steven Smith, the third officer involved, gave a
similar description of the incident in the report.
All three officers remain on paid leave while the incident
Aviation department policy calls for its officers to not
board planes to handle customer service issues, according to
"Only force reasonably necessary to defend a human life,
effect an arrest or control a person shall be used by Aviation
Security personnel," according to the aviation department's use
of force policy.
United said on Friday it had asked a U.S. Senate panel for
an extra week to answer questions about the incident.
United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz has said he was
"personally committed to putting proof behind our promise" in
the carrier's commitment to reforms.
(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing
by Robin Pomeroy and Jeffrey Benkoe)