Months after the United Airlines scandal went viral, Chicago aviation officials have fired two officers and suspended another two over the forcible removal of a passenger from a supposedly overbooked flight.
On April 9th, Kentucky-based doctor David Dao was dragged out of a purportedly overbooked flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Dao refused to give up his seat to accommodate United employees.
Although Dr. Dao told airline staff that he was a physician and had patients to attend in Kentucky, security officers were called to remove him from the plane. The incident – which was recorded and uploaded onto YouTube – left the man hospitalized.
The middle-age Dao – a former refugee of the Vietnam War – was dragged down the aircraft aisle. His nose was broken and he lost several teeth.
Three Chicago Department of Aviation security officers, as well as a sergeant, “mishandled a nonthreatening situation that resulted in a physically violent forcible removal of a passenger” aboard the flight, according to a report published by the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General Investigation.
Moreover, the document said that O’Hare employees made “misleading statements and deliberately removed material facts from their reports.”
CNN reports that the aviation department – acting on the information provided by the inspector general’s findings and recommendations – fired an officer “who improperly escalated the incident.”
The sergeant “involved in the deliberate removal of facts from an employee report” was also fired.
“The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose and the loss of two teeth,” the report said.
In response to the news, Dr. David Dao’s attorney Thomas Demetrio said, “It is unfortunate the conduct of these two city aviation employees has resulted in their losing their jobs.”
“There is a lesson to be learned here for police officers at all levels,” said Demetrio. “Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world.
“But for the video, the filed report stating that only ‘minimal’ force was used would have been unnoticed,” he said.
Not long after the incident went viral, United Airlines settled with the then-hospitalized Dr. Dao for an undisclosed amount.
Dr. Dao’s manhandling resulted in a massive public relations disaster for United, which saw its stock plummet in the aftermath.
The incident led to Congress launching an investigation into perceived ‘unfair’ practices on the part of airlines, including the routine overbooking of flights, shrinking seat sizes, and the forcible removal of passengers in nonthreatening circumstances.
Somewhat puzzlingly, the company later admitted that the flight had neither been overbooked or oversold at the time of the altercation.