Passenger removed from flight ID'd as KY doctor with troubled past
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The man who was forcibly removed from a flight on Sunday after refusing to disembark the plane during an overbooking situation is David Dao, an Elizabethtown doctor with a criminal past.
Several fellow passengers recorded video of a screaming Dao, 69, being removed from his seat aboard United Airlines flight 3411 by several men wearing security uniforms and dragged up the aisle to the exit by his arms. The plane was parked at a gate at Chicago O'Hare International Airport awaiting departure to Louisville.
Two aviation sources confirmed to NBC News that Dao is the doctor in the videos, which have made the viral rounds and caused a huge firestorm of criticism of United Airlines on social media, as well as day-long coverage on cable news.
One of the videos shows a visibly distraught and bloodied Dao in the back of the plane repeatedly saying, "I want to go home," and "Just kill me."
Other passengers who witnessed the incident can be heard on the videos expressing outrage at the way Dao was treated. One officer involved in removing Dao from the flight has been placed on leave, the Chicago Aviation Department said.
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An airline spokesman said passengers aboard flight 3411 were told that four of them would need to give up their seats for United employees. When no one volunteered to delay their flights until the following day in exchange for $800, four passengers were selected based on their travel plans, keeping families together and other criteria. He could not explain the specific reasons why Dao and the other three passengers were selected to postpone their flights. USA Today reported Tuesday that the airline said the flight was indeed sold out, but not overbooked.
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz himself has been the recipient of social media criticism for what some are calling an insensitive response to the situation. He changed his tone some, offering an apology on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, as well as a vow to "work to make it right."
Tyler Bridges, a passenger who shot one of the videos of the incident, told WAVE 3 News he doesn't completely blame United Airlines for the incident.
"The guy who was pulled out, he sort of brought that on himself," Bridges said. "Once the police came, when you're resisting police force, something has to give at some point."
The Chicago Department of Aviation released the following statement on Tuesday:
Aviation Security Officers (ASOs) are part of the public safety teams at both O'Hare and Midway, and complement and assist the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Chicago Fire Department (CFD) and federal law enforcement. While they do have limited authority to make an arrest, Sunday's incident was not within standard operating procedures nor will we tolerate that kind of action. That is why we quickly placed the aviation security officer on leave pending a thorough review of the situation.
The action we have taken thus far reflects what we currently know, and as our review continues we will not hesitate to take additional action as appropriate.
WAVE 3 News has reported previously on Dao. He was charged in 2003 with several drug crimes in Jefferson County related to prescriptions he was accused of writing illegally. A grand jury indicted him on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance and forgery. He was convicted of one count of trafficking in a controlled substance and several counts of forgery. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison, which was suspended, five years of supervised probation, and he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. The sentencing also ordered Dao to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, if necessary.
A 2009 medical evaluation of Dao found that he "lacked the foundation to navigate difficult situations, both interpersonally and in a complex profession." Evaluators also noted that as far back as 2002, "he would unilaterally (choose) to do his own thing" and struggled in difficult situations, including interactions with others both personally and professionally.
In 2013, however, Dao was found free of any "psychological turmoil."
Dao's medical license is active with a standing board action, which places a number of restrictions on him.
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