Aviation

Man who allegedly assaulted flight attendant claims self-defense

A California man who allegedly assaulted a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight on Wednesday claims he did so in self-defense. 

Brian Hsu of Irvine, Calif., was charged in the U.S.’s special aircraft jurisdiction with assault and interference with a flight crew, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for Colorado said in a statement on Monday.

In a video message posted to social media, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker called the incident “one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we’ve ever witnessed.”

“As for this individual, I can guarantee you he’ll never be allowed to fly American Airlines again,” Parker said.  

Hsu was on American Airlines Flight 976, which was en route from New York City to Santa Ana, Calif.  The plane was diverted to Denver after the incident, according to a criminal complaint filed on Friday.

The attendant told investigators that she was speaking with another attendant in the mid-galley section of the airplane when Hsu struck her in the head.

When the attendant turned to speak with Hsu, he did not apologize for striking her, but merely stated that he needed to use the bathroom, the complaint reads. The attendant told him to wait at his seat because the “fasten seatbelt” sign was on.

Hsu then raised has arms as though he were going to stretch. Instead, he struck the attendant in the head with an elbow, the complaint states. He initially backed down when the attendant took a “defensive posture” with her arms, but then struck her in the face with his right fist, the attendant said.  

Hsu, who was returning to California after having brain surgery in Rhode Island at the time of the incident, told investigators that he was stretching when he accidentally bumped the attendant, the complaint says.

Hsu said the attendant then began striking at him, prompting him to raise his hands defensively with his palms facing outward to prevent her from hitting him in the head. He then said the victim charged at him and hit her nose against the palm of his right hand.

The attendant had blood around her nose, and was taken to the hospital for treatment, the complaint states.

The complaint comes as authorities warn of a sharp surge over the past year in reports of unruly passengers, many of which are mask related.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union”” Sunday that a federal no-fly list for violent passengers should be “on the table.”

Tags American Airlines Flight attendant No-Fly List Pete Buttigieg Violence

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