Two aviation security officers involved in the April incident in which a 69-year-old doctor was violently removed from a United Airlines flight have been fired. The doctor, David Dao, suffered a broken nose, the loss of two teeth, and a concussion in an event that went viral on the Internet after it was captured by passengers’ mobile phones.
The Chicago Department of Aviation did not release the names of the officers who were fired. Another resigned and a fourth official was briefly suspended in the O’Hare International Airport episode, in which Dao had refused to give up his seat on a flight to Louisville that was overbooked. He was forcibly removed. Dao later sued the airline and settled for an undisclosed amount. The ordeal also prompted United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, to publicly apologize.
Chicago’s inspector general on Tuesday confirmed earlier reports that the officers involved had suggested that it was Dao’s fault that he struck his face on an armrest before he was dragged off the plane.
According to the initial police report, Dao was said to have pushed away an officer’s arm, causing “the subject to fall, hit, and injure his mouth on the armrest on the other side of the aisle.” Another officer corroborated that account, but none of this is visible on the videos passengers posted online.
Thomas Demetrio, Dao’s attorney, said video evidence is what doomed the officers.
“Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world,” he said in a statement. “Our cell phones are the best deterrent to ensure mistreatment becomes a rarity.”
The inspector general inquiry said that officers had “deliberately removed material facts from their reports.” Aviation officials fired the security official who had “improperly escalated the incident” as well as an official involved in removing facts from a report on the incident.
The videos show some type of skirmish and then an officer dragging the bloody man out of the plane to the backdrop of a passenger screaming about the ordeal. One video shows Dao saying, “No I’m not going. I am not going.” An officer responds, “Well, we’ll have to drag you.”
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