Passenger exposed buttocks and threw can during flight, prosecutors say

A passenger who refused to wear a mask on a Dublin-New York flight pulled down his pants and exposed his buttocks, threw a can at a passenger and put his cap on the captain’s head and said: ‘ Don’t touch me,” prosecutors said in an unsealed case Friday.

After the Delta flight from Dublin to John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 7, the passenger, Shane McInerney, 29, of Galway, Ireland, was charged with intentionally assaulting and intimidating a crew member, prosecutors said. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

On Saturday, Mr McInerney’s lawyer, Benjamin Yaster, declined to comment on the charges. Mr. McInerney made a first appearance in federal court in Brooklyn on January 14 and was released on $20,000 bond, prosecutors said.

The charges represent the latest example of the unruly and sometimes violent behavior that has increased on planes since the start of the pandemic. Many disruptions have involved passengers who refused to wear masks, as required by the federal government.

On Wednesday, an American Airlines flight from Miami to London turned around an hour into its journey due to a passenger who refused to wear a mask, the airline said.

In October, a passenger was accused of punching an American Airlines flight attendant in the nose, causing her a concussion, after a mask dispute. And in December, a California woman pleaded guilty to repeatedly punching a flight attendant on a Southwest Airlines flight, causing her face to bleed and chipping three teeth.

“Over the past year, we have seen a dramatic increase in incidents of unruly passengers, and we have taken a number of steps to bring this under control,” said Steve Dickson, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, during of an online discussion. the week.

“And I’m happy to say that rates have come down significantly year over year, but we still have work to do,” Mr Dickson said. “And that is, again, something that we have to continue to focus on.”

In a statement filed in court, an FBI agent said Mr McInerney refused to wear a mask despite being asked to do so “dozens” of times during the eight-hour flight. He threw an empty drink can, hitting another passenger in the head, and kicked the seat in front of him, disturbing the passenger there, the statement said.

At one point he walked from his seat in the economy section to the first class section and complained to a flight attendant about the food. As he was escorted back to his seat, Mr McInerney “pulled down his pants and underwear and exposed his buttocks” to the flight attendant and passengers seated nearby, the statement said.

About two hours into the flight, the captain, during a break, spoke to Mr. McInerney, the statement said. During the conversation, Mr McInerney took off his cap twice, put it on the captain’s head and then took it off again, the statement said.

He also put a fist near the captain’s face and said, “Don’t touch me,” the statement read.

At least one of the passengers found Mr McInerney’s behavior ‘frightening’ and flight crew members considered diverting the plane to another airport so Mr McInerney could be removed from the plane, according to the press release.

The flight continued to New York. As the plane made its final approach to JFK and everyone was strapped into their seats, Mr. McInerney again disobeyed orders from the flight attendants, according to the statement, which said he stood up, walked into the aisle and “refused to sit down.”

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