Two Chicago Department of Aviation officers involved in forcibly dragging a passenger off a United Airlines flight in April for refusing to give up his seat have been fired, according to a report released Tuesday by the city’s inspector general.
In a video that quickly went viral, officials were seen dragging Dao, bruised and bloodied, down the aisle of his United Airlines jet on the ground at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The airline later confirmed the elderly physician and his wife had been involuntarily bumped to make room for deadheading crew members. Dao was hospitalized for a concussion and facial injuries sustained when he hit his head on an armrest during the incident.
The firings were revealed in a quarterly report from the Chicago inspector general, Joseph Ferguson. Neither of the sacked officials were named in the report.
One officer was fired for escalating “a non-threatening situation into a physically violent one” and for the injuries caused by his “excessive force.” A sergeant also lost his job because he “deliberately removed material facts” from a report about the incident. Two other officers also received five-day suspensions for making misleading statements and “material omissions” in their reports.
According to Ferguson’s report, his office’s investigation showed that there was “significant confusion” at the Chicago Department of Aviation over the “roles and expectations” of aviation security officers.
United and the city repeatedly apologized to Dao, and the airline reached an undisclosed settlement with him. Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, told AP that dismissing the officer was unexpected, but could resonate with others. He said the department’s review of its policies should have been done the day after the incident. “In firing him, perhaps it will send a clear message to police and airline personnel all over the world that unnecessary violence is not the way to handle passenger matters,” Demetrio said.