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2 officers fired in connection with dragging doctor off United flight

Two Aviation Officers Fired, Two Suspended For Dragging Doctor Off United Flight

In a quarterly report, Chicago's Office of the Inspector General found that a Chicago Department of Aviation security officer "improperly escalated the incident" and that a sergeant "made misleading statements" and "deliberately removed material facts" from employee reports on the April 9 incident aboard United Express Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Ky.

United was sharply criticized after initial statements by its chief executive Oscar Munoz appeared to blame Dao for the altercation.

The incident started when David Dao, a 69-year-old doctor, refused to give up his seat to make room for airline personnel.

Three Chicago Department of Aviation security officers and a sergeant "mishandled a nonthreatening situation that resulted in a physically violent forcible removal of a passenger" aboard the flight, a City of Chicago Office of Inspector General investigation found, officials said Tuesday. One of the officers yanked Dao out of the seat when he refused to leave, and dragged him down the aisle.

United suffered bad publicity over the dragging and pledged that it would reduce overbooking and would no longer bump customers who have already boarded, squeeze traveling crew members onto flights at the last minute or call security to eject a passenger because of an overbooking issue. As a result of the officers' actions, Dao hit his face on an armrest and sustained a concussion and a broken nose and lost two teeth, the report said.

Just last month, Southwest Airlines had to apologize after a similar incident in which a woman was dragged off her flight for objecting to another passenger's pet being on the flight.

Besides the two officers who were fired, two others received short-term suspensions and one of them subsequently resigned, the report says.

Dao's attorney, Thomas Demetrio, told AP that dismissing the officer was unexpected, but could resonate with others.

"However, this is not a day of celebration for Dr. Dao, who is neither vindictive nor happy about Mr. Ferguson's findings".

"Demetrio said the case should serve as a lesson" for other officers.

"Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world", he said. Simply put, don't make stuff up. Again, cellphone footage of the incident went viral. "Our cellphones are the best deterrent to ensure mistreatment becomes a rarity". The Aviation Department also said it is conducting a full review of its policies and procedures, which would be finished by the first quarter of next year.

In a report on the incident, United officials said they had allowed internal policies to get in the way of treating passengers with dignity and respect.