Two aviation security officers who were involved in an incident in April in which a passenger was forcibly removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight have been fired, and a third has resigned after he was given a suspension.
A quarterly report released on Tuesday by Chicago’s Office of Inspector General said its investigation established that 3 Aviation Security Officers (ASOs) and an Aviation Security Sergeant of the Chicago Department of Aviation had violated the city’s rules in handling the incident.
Specifically, the first aviation security officer violated the city’s Use Of Force Policy when he escalated a non-threatening situation into a physically violent one by forcibly removing passenger David Dao from United Express Flight 3411, which was overbooked. Dao had refused to give up his seat.
The forcible removal caused Dao to suffer a concussion, a broken nose, and the loss of two teeth. The incident was captured on video and went viral across the world, resulting in a PR disaster for United Airlines, which was sharply criticized for its public statements. Dao later reached a settlement with the company although the terms have not been disclosed.
In addition to the use of force, the OIG’s investigation found that a second aviation security officer had made misleading statements in two reports while the third ASO made “material omissions” in a report about the passenger’s removal. It further established that the sergeant had deliberately removed material facts from the third ASO’s report.
As a result, the Chicago Department of Aviation fired the first ASO and the sergeant, though both have appealed their discharge and arbitration dates have yet to be set. Five-day suspensions were given to the second and third ASOs, both of whom initially appealed, after which the second ASO’s suspension was reduced to 2 days. The third ASO withdrew his appeal and resigned.
The Inspector General’s investigation further found that there was “significant confusion” within the Chicago Department of Aviation about the role and expectations of aviation security officers. The department said it plans to make “completely clear” through markings, procedures, and training, that the Aviation Security Division provides security services, not police services.
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