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2 Officers Fired, 2 Suspended For Violently Dragging Doctor Off United Flight

A review finds that Chicago Department of Aviation employees mishandled the incident and their reports on it.

18/10/2017 04:51 SAST

Four employees of the Chicago Department of Aviation have been disciplined for their part in the violent removal of a doctor from a United Airlines flight earlier this year.

The CDA ― which oversees two Chicago airports, Midway and O’Hare ― disciplined the employees following the Chicago inspector general’s review of the incident at O’Hare involving United Airlines and Dr. David Dao, according to a quarterly review made public Sunday.

Of the four employees, two were fired, one was suspended for two days and the other resigned after being suspended. They were disciplined for mishandling the incident and the reporting of it. 

Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said the April 9 incident started out as a “non-threatening situation” but escalated after CDA employees got involved. Ferguson found that the employees mishandled the situation, which “resulted in the physically violent forcible removal of a passenger.”

As a result of the inspector general’s review, the CDA fired one aviation security officer who they found violated the agency’s use-of-force policy. The officer, who remained unnamed in the review, used excessive force on Dao, causing him to hit his face on an armrest, sustain a concussion, broken nose and lose two teeth, the review said.

The other fired CDA employee was an aviation security sergeant who was “involved in the deliberate removal of material facts from an employee report” of the incident. The review says the sergeant also approved incident reports that did not include all essential information of the confrontation.

The inspector general’s office did not return HuffPost’s requests for clarification on what facts the sergeant removed from the report and why.

The CDA also handed down five-day suspensions to two security officers because of their incident reports. Both officers appealed, and the CDA granted a two-day suspension to one officer while the other resigned.

One officer was suspended for making misleading statements in two separate reports. The second suspended officer, who has resigned, “made material omissions” when reporting on the actions of the officer who violated the CDA’s use-of-force policy and was fired.

TylerBridges
Passengers questioned the use of force as Dr. David Dao was dragged off the United Airlines flight on April 9.

Dao was seated on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, on April 9 when airline staff asked passengers to volunteer to give up their seats for United staff members. When no one volunteered, the staff chose passengers at random. Dao, who was among those randomly selected, refused to give up his seat, leading airline staff to call CDA officers to remove him from the plane.

The officers violently pulled Dao from his seat and dragged him unconscious down the aisle. Other passengers took video of the confrontation, which sparked national outrage

The inspector general found that there was “significant confusion” within the roles and expectations of the CDA’s aviation security officers and recommended that the CDA make it clear to officers what their roles and responsibilities are.

In July, three months after Dao was dragged off the plane, the CDA removed the word “police” from all airport security uniforms and vehicles. The department also announced that the Chicago Police Department would be handling all of the airport’s disturbance calls going forward.

“This rescinds the current directive guiding incident dispatch, and defines coordination on responses with the Chicago Police Department,” the department said at the time.

Dao reached a settlement with United Airlines under undisclosed terms less than three weeks after the incident. The deal included Dao’s agreement to not sue the city. 

United CEO Oscar Munoz first called Dao “disruptive and belligerent” in an email to employees but later took full responsibility for the incident, which he called “truly horrific,” and he promised to “do better.”