CALUMET HEIGHTS — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday praised Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans' handling of the aftermath — and media firestorm — that resulted following city officers seriously injuring a Louisville doctor by dragging him off a United Airlines flight a week ago.
"Ginger did the right thing," Emanuel said of Evans suspending with pay three Aviation Department security officers involved in the incident.
Evans apologized Thursday for the fracas that broke Dr. David Dao's nose, knocked out two of his front teeth and gave him a concussion, his attorney said Thursday morning.
Emanuel, speaking to reporters at an event in Calumet Heights to tout the start of road repaving season, said it was clear that the conduct of the security officers was "totally, all-around unacceptable"
Evans was hired by Emanuel in May 2015 to oversee O'Hare and Midway airports, earns $300,000 annually and last year pocketed a $100,000 bonus for meeting performance goals in her contract. She is the highest paid city department head.
Emanuel declined to say whether the 292-officer Aviation security force — which costs the city $19 million annually — should be disbanded after the incident that one alderman said gave Chicago "a black eye."
The mayor said that he did want to prejudge the top-to-bottom review of airport security Evans is conducting.
Nor did Emanuel respond to a question about why the now-suspended officers were wearing jackets emblazoned with the word "police" despite Evans telling aldermen that the Aviation security officers were told in January to identify themselves as "security."
However, Emanuel's unwillingness to comment on the ongoing investigation did not stop him from pointing out that his administration had resisted efforts by some aldermen to allow the Aviation security officers to carry guns while on duty.
"That clearly would have been wrong" to allow the officers to carry guns, Emanuel said.
United Airlines flight 3411, an Embraer jet flown through the airline's United Express arm, was scheduled to depart from O'Hare International Airport at 5:40 p.m. on April 9 for Louisville International Airport when the company asked four passengers to voluntarily leave the plane so that four nonworking crew members could travel to Louisville, United officials said.
United officials said Monday that passengers who had already boarded the plane would no longer be asked to leave their seat to make room for crew members.