The Chicago Police Department took some heat on Monday for saying a passenger forcibly dragged off a United Airlines flight to Louisville "fell" when officers "attempted to carry the individual off the flight," despite passenger video of the traveler being manhandled to the audible horror of other people on the flight. But it wasn't Chicago police who boarded the flight and left with the bloodied passenger, it was unarmed security officers working for the Chicago Department of Aviation.
One of those officers involved in the incident "has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation," aviation department spokeswoman Karen Pride said Monday. "The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the department." She did not explain why only one of the officers was disciplined. The U.S. Department of Transportation also said it is reviewing United's "involuntary denied boarding," including whether United violated consumer-protection rules, though bumping is legal and airlines have broad discretion in prioritizing which passengers get involuntarily removed.
The passenger at the center of the United debacle was reportedly randomly selected for bumping after nobody volunteered for a hotel and flight voucher or $800. Three other selected passengers left the plane as instructed, to make room for four members of a flight crew. Aviation experts say the incident wasn't normal. "I've never seen a passenger forcibly removed unless it involved an unruly passenger of some sort," industry analyst Robert W. Mann Jr. told the Chicago Sun-Times after watching the video.