Although it should come as no surprise, two of the Chicago Aviation Police Officers who dragged Dr. David Dao off UA3411 tell a very different story of what happened.
Obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the Associated Press, the reports of Officer James Long and Mauricio Rodriguez Jr. assert that:
- One officer boarded initially and two officers were eventually called in for backup
- After calmly reasoning with him for several minutes, Dao was forcibly removed by three officers
- Officer Long was tasked with removing Dao from his seat
- Dao resisted his removal from the start, “flailing and fighting” as he was lifted out of his window seat
- Dao knocked Long’s hands off his arms, causing Dao to fall against the adjacent airline seat and bloody himself
- Only after refusing to stand up, Dao was dragged off the plane
- On the jetbridge while still on the ground, Dao claimed to be diabetic
- EMS were called
- When the grip on Dao was loosened, he ran back on the aircraft warning officers would have to “kill him”
- Dao was again removed, treated by EMS, and transported to Lutheran General Hospital
Long asserts that he provided his statement under “duress”, fearing he would lose his job if he did not. You can read Rodriguez’s report and Long’s statement below.
UA3411 Incident Report from Officer Mauricio Rodriguez Jr and Statement from Officer James Long
David Dao UA3411 Hospital Report
A hospital report was also included in the FOIA package:
Analysis of UA3411 Police Report
The officer’s account helps to explain why United CEO Oscar Munoz initially labeled Dr. Dao a “belligerent” passenger. Clearly, Dao was “belligerent”. Further, Dao made the situation much harder on himself by resisting his inevitable ejection.
But I don’t think that is the point. The point is still why — why were the passengers boarded first when four additional seats were needed? Why was violence necessary over a revenue dispute? However culpable you deem Dao for what happened, no one deserves to be dragged off a plane over an oversell problem.
One last piece of the FOIA request included the Chicago Aviation Police Department’s policy going forward. A memo to officers reveals a revised policy for using force:
It says aviation security personnel should use force only when “reasonably necessary to defend a human life, effect an arrest or control a person,” and that the force used “shall only be that which is necessary to overcome the resistance being offered by an offender and to effect lawful objectives.”
Under that guidance, Dao still could have been dragged off.
We’ll see if this news changes sentiment toward Dr. Dao. Based on the videos, I don’t believe Dao was deliberately slammed into a seat. I also believe that officers were not looking to become violent. But does it really matter? Dao has already won in the court of public opinion. United has already apologized and deflected any blame of Dao and the fact remains violence is no answer to these sorts of disputes.
What do you make of the latest police and hospital report?
More Coverage of the UA3411 Incident
Doctor Dragged Off Oversold United Flight
United CEO Addresses Bloodied Passenger Incident
I’ll Defend Oscar’s Note to United Employees on Flight 3411
Royal Jordanian Trolls United Airlines
Is Oscar Munoz in Danger of Losing His Job?
Details Emerge on Identity of Doctor Dragged Off United Flight
What United CEO Left Out of Apology
Emirates Shames United With Powerful Ad
Must See: United CEO on Good Morning America
One New Video, Two Competing Narratives – Passenger Interaction with Police Prior to Ejection from United Flight
Why Didn’t Anyone Help the Bloody Passenger?
Lawyers Stage Elaborate Press Conference to Pummel United Airlines
Is Oscar Munoz a Liar?
United Airlines Board of Directors Addresses Controversy
United CEO Apology Tour at Asian Consulates