Chicago aviation security officer who was fired for dragging man off United flight sues city and airline

Chicago aviation security officer who was fired for dragging man off United flight sues city and airline

People with Asian community organizations from Chicago hold signs at a gathering on April 11, 2017, to protest a confrontation where David Dao, 69, of Elizabethtown, Ky., was removed from a United Airlines flight by police at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/AP)

A Chicago aviation security officer, fired last year for his part in dragging a man off a United Airlines flight, is suing the city, saying his employers were negligent because they didn’t provide him with proper training to deal with passengers who are difficult to remove from a plane.

James Long also alleged in the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, that United, also named in the action, should have known that summoning officers to the plane would “require the use of physical force.”

A spokesman for the City of Chicago said he could not comment because the city had not been served with the suit. A United spokeswoman also declined to comment because the airline had not received a copy of the suit.

Long and another officer were fired last year. A report by the Chicago inspector general found that excessive force was used in removing David Dao from the flight on April 9, 2017. The report said a non-life-threatening situation was turned into the “physically violent and forceful removal of a passenger.”

Video of Dao’s confrontation with the officers was viewed by millions of people on social media, drawing worldwide condemnation. Dao, who suffered a broken nose, a concussion and lost two teeth in the incident, reached a confidential settlement with United.

Long, who was hired as a Chicago aviation security officer in January 2015, said he was on his lunch hour when he was summoned to the gate to help two other officers who were trying to remove a passenger from a plane.

Despite his contention that he was not adequately trained to handle the situation, Long maintained that he used “minimal but necessary force to remove” Dao after the Kentucky doctor refused to give up his seat to make room for a United employee. Long also noted that before the incident, he was an employee in “good standing” who had received a performance evaluation with an overall rating of “exceeds expectations.”

Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, had no comment on Long’s account.

Long also said that Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans “knowingly made and published false statements” about him via Twitter and in the media.

Evans, the suit said, implied that “LONG was not a police officer, that his actions on April 9, 2017 were ‘completely inappropriate’ and that so-called ‘security staff’ are not armed [with guns] for good reason.”

As a result, Long said he has suffered damage to his professional reputation, the lawsuit said. He is asking for punitive and compensatory damages, back wages and “other and further damages” as the court sees fit.

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