O'HARE — The officer who removed a man from his seat and dragged him off a United Airlines flight that had been overbooked has been suspended, Chicago officials said.
The officer, who was not identified, was placed on leave Monday, "pending a thorough review of the situation,” city Aviation Department spokeswoman Karen Pride wrote in an emailed statement.
“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,” Pride said.
The passenger, who identified himself to airport staff as a doctor, refused to get off the plane when he was randomly selected to be bumped to make room for United employees who needed to get to Louisville.
The man explained that he had patients to see in Louisville in the morning, witnesses said.
A series of videos — which have gone viral — show several law enforcement officers gathered around the man's seat before one officer lunges at him, and he lets out a loud wail.
Police dragged the man, who appears to have blood coming from his mouth and whose glasses are askew, from his seat and down the aisle by his arms as other passengers watched in horror.
Before officials announced the officer violated the Aviation Department's policy, a statement from the Chicago Police Department said the man became "irate" after being asked to leave the plane.
The statement said the man was injured when officers "attempted to carry" him, and "he fell" on an armrest and hit his face.
The passenger was taken to Lutheran General Hospital for his injuries, which weren't life-threatening, police said.
The investigation is ongoing, according to Chicago police.
United Airlines flight 3411, an Embraer commuter jet flown through the airline's United Express arm, was scheduled to depart from O'Hare International Airport at 5:40 p.m. headed to Lousiville International Airport.
That's when the company asked four passengers to voluntarily leave the plane so four non-working crew members could travel to Louisville, according to several travelers who posted about the incident online.
Passengers were offered a hotel stay and compensation ranging from $400-800, in accordance with Department of Transportation rules which require airlines to compensate passengers who miss flights due to the controversial practice of overbooking.
Passenger Audra Bridges, who posted a video of the account on Facebook, said that when no one volunteered to give up a seat, the airline said a computer would randomly select passengers to be removed from the flight.
Included in that selection was the man later dragged off. Bridges said the man became upset and explained that he had patients to see in Louisville in the morning.
Video shows several law enforcement officers gathered around the man's seat before one man lunges at the seated passenger, who lets out a loud wail as police drag him out.
Bridges said the incident scared other children and travelers on the plane.
At one point, the man re-boarded the plane and ran towards the back, explaining that he had to get home for his patients in the morning, according to video footage and passenger accounts. But he was once again removed from the plane.
— Tyler Bridges (@Tyler_Bridges) April 10, 2017
Videos posted by Kaylyn Davis, who said on Twitter that her husband was on the flight, appear to show the man saying that he needs "to get home" and "just kill me" as blood drips from his mouth after he re-enters the plane.
Davis tweeted that her husband also had to get off the plane because there was blood on the armrest of his seat after the incident.
The flight eventually left two hours later at 7:42 p.m., arriving in Louisville around 10 p.m.
Late Monday morning, the airline tweeted out a statement from Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, who called the event "upsetting" and apologized for "having to re-accommodate these customers."
United CEO response to United Express Flight 3411. pic.twitter.com/rF5gNIvVd0— United (@united) April 10, 2017
According to United's "Contract of Carriage," or set of policies: "If a flight is oversold, no one may be denied boarding against his/her will until UA or other carrier personnel first ask for volunteers who will give up their reservations willingly in exchange for compensation as determined by UA. If there are not enough volunteers, other passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily in accordance with UA’s boarding priority."
Those who are the least likely to be denied boarding or de-planed due to overbooking are children traveling alone and passengers with disabilities. Other factors considered by the airline when deciding who to remove include: a "passenger’s fare class, itinerary, status of frequent flyer program membership, and the time in which the passenger presents him/herself for check-in without advanced seat assignment."
When flights are oversold, airlines are legally required to pay up to $1,350 in compensation, depending on the level of inconvenience caused to passengers.
@WHAS11 Kids were crying people are disturbed. Also after being removed the bloodied man somehow ran back on the plane repeating-I have to get home— Tyler Bridges (@Tyler_Bridges) April 10, 2017
@USAnonymous Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave ^MD— United (@united) April 10, 2017