A California man who was captured on video punching an American Airlines flight attendant throughout a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles was arrested this week, the Justice Department mentioned, the newest occasion of unruly conduct within the skies as coronavirus restrictions loosen and journey picks up.
The man, Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, of Westminster, Calif., was charged on Thursday with one depend of interference with flight crew members, a day after he ran as much as a flight attendant and punched him behind the top, the Justice Department mentioned in a information launch. Mr. Le may withstand 20 years in jail if convicted.
Jelani Lindsey, a lawyer on the Office of the Federal Public Defender who’s representing Mr. Le, didn’t instantly reply to a name searching for touch upon Thursday.
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, a union that represents about 24,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, mentioned in a press release that “this violent behavior puts the safety of all passengers and crew in jeopardy and must stop.”
The fees towards Mr. Le got here as air vacationers and crews continued to face an unusually excessive variety of disruptions for the reason that onset of the pandemic. In 2019, 146 investigations into unruliness on planes had been initiated. So far in 2022, there have been 680 such investigations, in keeping with information from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Last yr, a lot of the aggressive passenger conduct was tied to masks enforcement. The F.A.A. tallied practically 6,000 reviews of unruly passengers final yr, and about 4,300 of them had been mask-related, in keeping with the F.A.A.
The tempo seems to have decelerated this yr, although it stays above prepandemic ranges. As of Tuesday, there have been practically 2,000 reviews. The Transportation Security Administration mentioned earlier this yr that it will cease implementing a masks mandate on planes after a federal decide in Florida struck down the requirement.
The episode on Flight 377 started about 20 minutes after takeoff on Wednesday when Mr. Le bought up from his seat as flight attendants supplied meals and beverage service, in keeping with an affidavit from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Le grabbed a flight attendant’s left shoulder from behind and requested for espresso, the affidavit states. Then, he grabbed each of the attendant’s shoulders from behind, inflicting the flight attendant, who shouldn’t be named, to step again and “put up a defensive posture,” the affidavit states.
Mr. Le then walked to the entrance of the aircraft, loitered close to the first-class cabin and sat in an unoccupied row, the affidavit states.
A distinct flight attendant, recognized within the affidavit as S.B.G., approached Mr. Le and requested him to return to his seat. But Mr. Le stood up and closed each of his fists as he assumed a “fighting stance,” the affidavit states. When S.B.G. went to the entrance of the aircraft to report the conduct to the pilot, Mr. Le rushed towards him and punched him behind the top, the affidavit states.
Video from a passenger reveals individuals screaming as they see a person, carrying an orange shirt with a floral sample, strike a flight attendant.
“Oh my god,” one passenger yells.
After he hit S.B.G., Mr. Le shuffled towards the again of the aircraft, in keeping with the affidavit. Then, the affidavit states, “several passengers apprehended Le near an exit row.”
Mr. Le was later moved to a unique row, and his arms and legs had been cuffed, the Justice Department mentioned. Flight attendants needed to restrain him to his seat with seatbelt extenders as a result of he saved unbuckling his seatbelt, the affidavit states.
Curtis Blessing, a spokesman for American Airlines, mentioned in a press release that Mr. Le had been met by legislation enforcement officers upon arrival in Los Angeles.
“The individual involved in this incident,” he added, “will never be allowed to travel with us in the future.”
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