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Jiu-Jitsu can't help airline passenger

Federal authorities have declined to prosecute a man who tried to open a cabin door during a United flight from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles airport last night [story link].

Flight 890 was about two hours from Dulles when the man walked to the rear of the plane and flipped up the handle on the rear cabin door. Because those doors cannot open when a plane is in flight, nothing happened to the door. But the same cannot be said of the man. A federal investigator says he was immediately jumped by nearby passengers and beaten. "They roughed him up quite a bit," a federal official says.

However, after an investigation by the FBI, prosecutors declined to file charges. Federal agents said the man flipped the handle out of curiosity or boredom, not intending to cause any harm. "It was a stupid move. Something an eight-year-old kid would do," an FBI official says.

The official says the man, who spoke Portuguese and little English, was apparently a professional Jiu-Jitsu fighter and was described as walking around the cabin during the flight, trying to attract attention. "He was strutting his stuff," the official says.

Even though federal authorities won't prosecute, local prosecutors are considering some charges.

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Gwendol...Do you remember Richard Reed, if the passengers had just let him light his match out of curiosity and not attacked him they would all be dead..wake up

I think that this sounds like an overall measured response. having restrained a few unruly drunks and enraged batterers in my time I would like to point out it is difficult for us amatures to accurately judge the amount of force required. Even professionals have trouble with this.

I think the passengers did a fine job, and those of us that are willing and able should always jump in when the flight attendants or pilots need help, after all, they are keeping us aloft!

Next time you're on an airplane, notice the way that the doors close. They are pulled inside of the pressure cabin, then sealed and locked against the skin of the cabin. The wall of the airplane would have to give way before the door would open.(The pressure in the cabin would keep the door closed no matter what you tried to do to it.) Still, the guy needed to be subdued. People don't need to be screwing around with things that they don't understand. Just ask the former residents of Chernobyl.

Listen, if its me, and i'm sitting anywhere near somebody trying to yank open an emergency door mid-flight, I'm jumping all over him. I don't think the idiot deserves to die for what he did, but he definetely deserved a smack-down, and it sounds like that's what he got. This stuff (air travel) is getting more and more dangerous and paranoid, and morons like this aren't helping much to stem these new restrictions or paranioa. I'm happy there was a Marshal on board, and happier still that folks didn't sit and watch - who knows what the guy was capable of.

I feel that this person should be prosecuted. He was disruptive and messes with equipment that was absolutely off limits, a person is not allowed to go out a fire exit just for fun. As for the door would not open during flight, do you trust it? Would you want to test this if your life was dependent on it? I have seen safety devices fail resulting in loss of limb this could have been many lives. The man should have been asked to sit down and be considered a risk as soon as he started air punching; I have practiced the martial arts for years and the first thing a person learns is restraint, if he was suffering a panic attack, he could have been calmed or is training something of the past. Hay Marshal! This man needed to be set down like a disruptive child, May-Day, May-Day, we are going down, is too late. They take away my little finger nail file and clippers, No more water and carry-on bags, they make me take off my prostheses and expect me to walk through the scanner with out my crutches. But if I give them lip about it, I’m the one late to my flight. Many people have military backgrounds and trained to do things to people that is not talked about. He’s getting his 15 minutes of fame and should pay more than being an instant star and a slap on the wrist. He is lucky he didn’t resist or the bruising could have been fatal. All because of his stupidity, He should be charged with disorderly conduct, tampering with airline equipment and inciting a riot.

Air Marshalls are professionals, on the plane for our safety preventing something SIGNIFICANT from happening. They are there as anonymous passengers. They couldn't and should not have engaged this guy just for acting like a goof while walking down the aisle. If he had a gun or other weapon, you can bet they would have taken care of business. What if this guy was just a decoy for others with more sinister intentions? The air marshalls would have revealed themselves, thereby rendering themselves useles. I can't believe those who have commented here with there heads in the sand (or somewhere else). The general public is no longer nice or polite. I love the comment about where he should have been verbally engaged and "been nice to" or whatever. Armchair quarterback baby! If I was sitting next to you wearing a trenchcoat, reading adult magazines, and smelling unbathed, I'm SURE you wouldn't talk to me. You'd avoid me like the plague, simply because of your perception of me.
What's the difference here? Anyone who wears military fatigues and punches the air is a misfit, or worse, and someone I will not engage.

John McLellan is right, the smoke detector is more important that the DOOR? Gwendol, if the passengers hadn't interfered on 9-11, the white house would have been destroyed, instead of heros in a field. The FBI and Air Marshalls should be given stricter orders to be proactive. Since it took the Marshalls (too much) time to react, I hope they took a southern Sunday's worth of time to stop the beating. Would be interesting to hear what this guy has to say next week. Hopefully, he'll say he deserved what he got, apologize to everyone, and get some meds.

To the few who feel the man should not be charged with any crime, and feel the passengers overreacted. I bet you would have very different feelings if you were seated on that flight. Probably even buy the passengers that subdued the kook a round of drinks. In todays climate people should undertand that when you act out or demonstrate some threating behavior, authorities and civilians will more than likely react swiftly to the situation. God bless us all including the vigilant.

Well live and learn, I for one never knew the door would not open in flight, they always do in the movies
seems like every time I do something stupid I always hear the expression,( ignorance of the law is no excuse) from other articles that I have read it looks as tho you get into more trouble getting drunk on the plane or if you happen to have something forbidden even if it got thru the security checkpoint.

Try this on for size: You go to jail and to court and have to pay a fine for tampering with the smoke detectors but if you try to open the doors on a plane while in flight there are no conseqences.

Maybe it was his first time flying, maybe he was just very nervous but afraid to show it. He was probably intimidated by the nonchalance of the other passengers. And it was a very long flight, getting up and throwing punches in the air doesn't sound so heinous to me. Notice he didn't try to force the door open, he played with the handle as though out of boredom, simple dumb curiosity. I support the passengers subduing him for sure but they might just have a big misunderstanding as far as prosecuting him. They should check him out of course but just saying unlikely he's a badun. Some here are overreacting I think.

Gwendol Bowling should, definitely, rethink her priorities. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and the need of one "Rambo/Rockie-wannabe" for attention absolutely does not outweigh the need, no, make that the Right of his fellow passengers to feel secure during the flight. Hooray for those passengers who decided to "get involved" and responded to the flight attendant's call for "Help!" As far as engaging the "Rambo/Rockie" in conversation goes, if there were, in fact, Air Marshals on the flight, they should have been having a "conversation" with him very shortly after he began "acting out", air-boxing, and long before he started playing with the door latch. Why didn't that happen? And yes, prosecute the fool, if for no other reason that to send a message that such behavior will not be tolerated...except on airlines owned by Gwendol, I suppose.

Seems to me that the passengers did the right thing in subduing this guy, however, it seems to me that nearly everyone out there wants him prosocuted. No doubt the guy is an ass, first class ass. But I think that perosocution is over kill. First of all, if the door can't be opened, then there was no real danger. Next, he got a well deserved beating, no lasting harm, a good lesson. Finally, I am sure that the ASS got the heck scared out of him when he was arrested. What do you accomplish by prosocuting him? I am willing to bet the guy is no more than 25 years old and how many of us haven't been an ass at some point in time? Maybe even should have been prosocuted for it? Yet most of us grow and mature, learn from mistakes. A person convicted of a felony most often has a great deal of difficulty getting a leg up in life. Why ruin the young mans life for a stupid, yet harmless lapse in judgement. Perhaps we should try to cultivate a society whee people are encouraged to be respobsible out of genuine concern for others and not for fear of punishment!

Even Walmart sells camo and psuedo military wear but that's beside the point. First, the bizarre and aggressive behavior of walking about the cabin throwing 'air punches' should have been confronted immediately. Second, when the attendant requested help, I'm glad there were passengers willing and able to restrain him (the well-deserved beating is a bonus). Third, he should absolutely be prosecuted. If nothing else, his mental status would then most likely be examined and it could result in him getting treatment that it would seem on the surface he needs.

Yet another reason not to fly.

After reading the comments that have been written already I'd have to say I'd fly with about 95 % of you anytime. The other 5% (i.e. Gwendol,Kyle, David Y)
You must have been locked in a seller the last 5 yrs because this is a serious threat that we all have to take to the heart, because if we don't then we will never be safe, our kids, our grand-kids, anyone we care about is at risk. As for the FEDs what are they thinking ??? Make an example of this guy for everyone to see. This isn't street ball where you call "no blood, no foul" this is peoples lives you are talking about. Thank God nothing serious did happen and a pat on the back to the passenger who took the nut job down. Semper Fi and Never Forget America !!!

Gwendol, if your definition of "going bonkers" is getting out of your seat to help someone stop a passenger who is messing with something that they have no business messing with, then I would hope that there would be alot of passengers "going bonkers" You can't be serious asking if there isn't a better way of signaling then yelling help. What is she supposed to do? Ask the guy to wait right there while she goes to the front to get help?

Gwendol, I am thankful those passengers chose not to be victims. It would be best for you to stay in your seat, let others act, and try not get in the way.

I agree with you that he needs to be persecuted. I also agree that he deserved getting the crap kicked out of him. But you all give the military a bad name when you make it sound like he is in the military. Yes, he was wearing BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform), but this does not mean he is in the military. All you need to do in order to get them is go to a military surplus store or even Ebay. If the guy does not speak English, he would not even be eligible for the military.

Wow...thats intresting....So, apparently 9/11 didn't really mean much to the FBI. When you get burnt by the stove once as a kid...its highly likely you wont touch the stove agian. So when a crazy or bunch of crazy people get on an airplane and start doing things which in this day and age we know to be dangerous or potentially dangerous, given the times, we should respond in the same way. Premptive Defence. Self preservation. Come on FBI, the man pulled the latch on the airplane door because he was curious. Curiosity killed the cat...satisfaction could kill everyone else. Yeah there are a number of cases out there to handle, but that doesn't mean this one should be taken lightly. Thank God the door couldn't be opened. I mean, is that why he is being let go? Because there was no real threat? So the messege that is being sent that is people have to actually be hurt and/or die first before its taken seriously? Just a question. Way to shine FBI. Way to handle the moment. I'm sure your approval ratings are skyrocketing at this point.

Yes, charge the idiotic passenger. Then charge the Air Marshal(s), if any were on the flight, for dereliction of duty. Then, charge the Air Marshal service agents and the TSA agents and the FBI agents who had the idiot in their custody and let him go free. We pay these agencies and agents with lots of money and lots of inconvenience to protect airline passengers. If they fail to act, they need to do time. If something happens at a later date when El Puncho gets on another plane, what then? Will they give him a travel bonus too?

Just wait until his greedy ACLUish lawyers get a hold of this case they'll be trying to sue everybody that put a finger on him. If i was caught in the act of doing something like this i would plead stupid too. So did he really mean to do it or not???

Well now that there is no penalty for tampering with the doors they sure as heck aren't taking my hair gel away....and the corkscrew stays with me tooo!

Well....all I can the article...There was ample time (10 minutes or so) for verbal engagement prior to the actual incident. Had anyone on the plane had any sort non-threatening verbal engagement (employees, federal agents, or even a kindly fellow passenger, who had already gone through the same clearance in boarding the plane) the incident perhaps would have been entirely avoided. This is what is meant by our President when he discusses the importance of vigilence in averting incidents. In this case, an incident was NOT averted. Many passengers moving to one area of a plane can, indeed, throw the balance of the plane off and cause greater problems. For all I know, the guy thought he was heading for the restroom. I wasn't there, and to my knowledge, neither were you. I do know that helpful passengers like this are NOT a help to our airlines! Enjoy your flights! Develop the art of friendly conversation.

YES, THIS GUY SHOULD BE PROSECUTED! Hey, not taking in account the extremely sad and terrible acts of 9/11, NO ONE should EVER act like that on a PLANE. Specially with the many risk that doing something dumb on a plane brings. And I agree with what Fiske from VA wrote, he could have caused someone to stress to the point of having a heart attack or an asthma attack. He terrorized people on the plane trying to turn that handle and People that is what we are fighting againt: Terrorism.

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