Pilot takes down passenger who pushed flight attendant
Newly released video, obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader, shows a Lexington man being subdued by a pilot after a confrontation with the flight crew of an American Airlines flight to Charlotte.
Lexington native Brian Colón, 23, shot the video on the July 21 flight that ended in the arrest of Michael Kerr, who worked as a cook at Portofino until he was fired last week.
In the video, Kerr threatened to break the pilot’s jaw and pushed the flight attendant to the floor, prompting the pilot to take Kerr to the floor, saying: “You don’t put your hands on my flight attendant!”
Colón, who also is a flight attendant for Norwegian Airlines, said that he has never seen anything like this incident.
“I was scared. I was very scared. I felt like the flight attendant’s life was in danger, and I felt like someone else needed to step in, the way he treated her,” Colón said.
“We landed and were taxiing, and waiting for the jet bridge to arrive at the exit door and the man started screaming, ‘let’s go, go’,” Colón said. A flight attendant asked Kerr to sit down, but he refused and followed her into the forward galley.
After the plane came to a complete stop, the captain came out of the cockpit and asked Kerr again to sit down, but he shoved the flight attendant and attempted to get out. The door of the plane was open, but the jet bridge wasn’t in place yet, Colón said.
Kerr shoved the flight attendant, Colón said, “and that’s when the captain just jumped him.”
Colón said that it took about 15 to 20 minutes for the police to arrive. “They had to hold him, solid, for like 15 minutes. They kept apologizing the whole time to the passengers. And the guy kept fighting back,” he said.
While he was held down on the floor of the plane, Kerr loudly told the pilot, “Whatever you do is going on Facebook, and you’re a ... complete ... loser. You heard me right the first time.”
Kerr allegedly drank three Jack Daniel’s on the plane before he got combative with the flight crew. According to an FBI affidavit, he threatened, shoved, kicked and spat at flight attendants before he was subdued by a pilot and hauled off the plane by police officers.
Kerr, 25, faces charges of being intoxicated and disruptive, assault on a female, communicating threats and interfering with a flight crew or attendant, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Kerr was arraigned in federal court Monday and released on $20,000 bond.
The Charlotte Observer reported Monday that Kerr is now banned from flying on commercial airlines and is barred from contacting the flight attendant, who has been undergoing physical therapy for her injuries.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA on Monday issued a statement saying that alcohol-fueled air rage incidents are on the rise.
“Flight attendants are the most likely crew members to be the target of passenger abuse, as they are the primary person to interactive with passengers and serve as the authority figure on the flight without the ability to call for law enforcement. The flight attendant was attempting to de-escalate the situation and was assaulted by the passenger. It is never acceptable for a passenger to assault a flight attendant, another member of the crew or other passengers. There is zero tolerance in a secure aviation system. We stand behind our member and will support her through this process,” the union said. “We have seen an increase in these incidents throughout the industry. The biggest frustration is delays and cancellations, and that has the added problem of people sitting at airports and going to a bar and drinking alcohol. Alcohol is a leading cause of air-rage incidents, as it seems to be in this case.”
The flight attendant’s friend Tanise Love told the Charlotte Observer that the woman is thankful for the support she has received since the incident. She was supported in court by co-workers and friends, but Love said she has also received support from strangers.
“She’s as angry as anyone would be, but she’s also very forgiving,” Love said. “I don’t think she’s so much focused on the assailant or his wrongdoing, she’s just focused on getting better.”