There are so many viral stories that include intoxicated airline passengers that you have to wonder: Are drunk and disorderly people on flights a new phenomenon, or are cellphones just broadcasting incidents of disorderly conduct now more than ever?
Brandon Strong of Utah represents the latest example of this trend. A would-be passenger who was traveling with his 8-year-old son on Sunday, Strong never made it past the boarding phase, as he was arrested for disorderly intoxication, resisting officers, and assaulting police after engaging in a physical confrontation with a JetBlue employee and police at the JetBlue gate at Orlando International Airport in Florida. Bystanders captured the incident on video and posted it to social media.
According to the arrest affidavit, provided to Yahoo Lifestyle by the City of Orlando Police Department, Strong had verbally harassed a woman, calling her a “c***,” and was then told by a JetBlue employee that he would not be permitted to fly. That’s when Strong, according to a sworn written statement by a JetBlue employee, became physically confrontational.
“I explained to him that he could not travel and asked for his son,” the employee wrote. “At that point, he pressed his iPad against my chest and pushed me. I pushed his hands away from my chest, and he attempted to grab me. We wrestled, and myself and a couple other customers tried to restrain him.”
— David Guffey (@GuffStuff) October 21, 2018
Officer Jason Hajek responded to multiple 911 calls about the incident. When he approached Strong, he “could detect the strong odor of the impurities of alcohol on his breath,” according to the affidavit. After refusing to let go of his bag, and refusing to comply with the officer, Strong was informed three times that a “chemical spray” would be used against him. With a “crowd surrounding” the officer and Strong, the officer sprayed “one short burst” of pepper spray in Strong’s direction.
Officer Hajek was assisted by JetBlue employees and passengers in handcuffing Strong, who continued to resist arrest. During the scuffle, Strong yelled, “Where is the NAACP?!” The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the oldest civil rights organization in the United States. Perhaps Strong was suggesting this was a case of unjust police brutality against people of color? Strong, however, is a 45-year-old white male, according to the affidavit.
Strong’s son witnessed the incident, according to the affidavit, and JetBlue employees took care of him until a family member arrived. His mother was then notified that he would be transported back to Utah.
According to the affidavit, as Strong was being transported to the Orange County Jail, he referred to the initial JetBlue employee as “Paul Bart Mall Cop,” and said he was “going to come after him with everything he’s got,” adding he was a “concealed weapons permit holder and firearms owner.” When asked what he meant by the statement, Strong responded that “he knows a lot of people in the [White House].”
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