New details on Dao dragging emerge in city files on United flight

SHARE New details on Dao dragging emerge in city files on United flight
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Three Chicago Department of Aviation police officers remove Dr. David Dao from United Airlines Flight 3411 on April 9, 2017. | Supplied photo

Chicago Department of Aviation police officers described Dr. David Dao as combative when they approached him aboard United Express Flight 3411 — and the city’s aviation commissioner was incredulous that the officers were aboard the flight to begin with, newly released city records show.

“If the flight was overbooked, United should not have allowed the man to board,” aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans wrote to her staff and other city officials the day after the April 9 dragging of Dao off the Louisville-bound flight.

Evans also was confused about how Dao was taken off the flight — yet somehow ended up back on the plane. “I don’t understand,” she wrote. “He was removed, then he went back to the plane?”

Jeffrey Redding, deputy chief of security for the aviation department, responded shortly thereafter, “He broke away from the ASOs [Aviation Security Officers] on the jet bridge and got back on the plane. Gathering all reports as we speak.”

The situation apparently grew heated enough that Chicago Police officers also responded. When they arrived, Dao was “laying on the jet bridge floor in front of the open door” of the plane.

“The victim was observed striking his face against an arm rest as [Department of Aviation] officers attempted to escort the victim from the flight,” a Chicago Police officer wrote in a case report after the April 9 struggle. The report also notes Dao suffered an “accidental injury” and the extent of his injuries were “minor.”

According to the CPD report, an aviation officer said “Dao folded his arms across his body and refused to move from his seat.” The officer then “wrapped his arms around Dao as the subject continued to resist and the victim struck his lip during the struggle.”

In the aviation officer’s report, he claims he reached out to “hold” Dao and was able to pull him away from his window seat on the aircraft and move toward the aisle.

“But suddenly the subject started flailing and fighting,” the aviation officer wrote.

Dao knocked the officer’s hand off his arm, causing the struggling Dao to fall and hit his mouth on an arm rest on the other side of the aisle, the officer wrote. He then dragged Dao because the 69-year-old physician refused to stand up, the officer wrote.

He and two other aviation officers have since been placed on leave as a result of the incident.

Evans described Dao’s injuries in an email. “We have a hospital report that says concussion, broken nasal bone, missing tooth and something else,” she wrote. “He was visibly bleeding at the scene.”

The documents were among a series of records released by the Department of Aviation and Chicago Police Department in response to Freedom of Information Act requests made by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Email conversations show Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office getting involved in damage control the morning the videos went viral.

“I think the most important thing for us to now is to have a response to folks inquiring sooner rather than later; and make clear that the individuals in question are not on the job (that will show that we are taking swift action, and that this is not a systematic issue, but an isolated issue that we are taking seriously),” Emanuel’s deputy press secretary Lauren Huffman wrote.

The aviation department also was bombarded with emails from dozens of people upset after seeing the videos.

“[I] writing you absolutely sickened by the video [I] saw of your officer assaulting an innocent citizen who committed no crime on board a [United Airlines] flight,” one person wrote.

“Ask yourself: what if the passenger had been a pregnant woman?” another person said. “Please do more!”

Contributing: Associated Press

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