A few days ago I wrote about how a Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta had to divert to Oklahoma City due to an unruly passenger onboard who had to be physically restrained. Arguably what made the story most shocking is that the unruly passenger was in fact an off-duty flight attendant.
This flight attendant has now been charged federally, and some more details have emerged about the incident.
Flight attendant faces 20 years in jail, $250K fine
The Department of Justice is bringing charges against Stephon Jamar Duncan, the 34-year-old man from Atlanta who caused the diversion of Delta flight 1730 last Friday. He’s being charged federally with one count of interference with flight crew members.
If convicted, Duncan faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release.
More details emerge about the incident
Some more details have emerged about the way that the off-duty Delta flight attendant acted on the flight.
First of all, the man was wearing a helmet, and then allegedly began stashing personal items in a variety of places throughout the plane. When these items were later retrieved, they turned out to be “tennis balls with writings on them, trash, and food.”
Things escalated when the man handed a note to the crew that read as follows:
“I AM ATL BASED, ALERT DELTA MANAGER, TERRORIST ON BOARD. 95835/CONTACT PILOTS.”
At that point he allegedly took to the PA to announce that “the plane is being taken over” and that it would be “going under 10,000 feet.” When the crew tried to get him away from the front of the aircraft, he began physically attacking them, including using his forearm to shove a flight attendant against the wall, while trying to choke her.
That’s the point at which other passengers were asked to help in restraining the man. There’s video of him being pinned to the floor, and then he also had to be flex cuffed.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that things are in fact as they initially seemed with this incident. Clearly this guy is having some issues, and I hope he gets the help he needs.
While there have been endless stories of bad passenger behavior, this story is unique since it was an off-duty flight attendant causing the problems. The person at the center of this is now facing federal charges that could see him spend up to 20 years in jail, and/or be fined up to $250,000.
This kind of behavior isn’t normal and is different than the typical “air rage” incidents we see, so hopefully he gets the help he needs. I guess it’s ultimately good for everyone that he was off-duty and not in uniform, because could you imagine what it would have been like if passengers had to take down a uniformed flight attendant while on duty?
I’m curious to see how this case unfolds…