United Airlines employees were seen forcibly removing a passenger, identified as David Dao, from a flight from Chicago to Louisville before takeoff at O’Hare International Airport in a video posted on Facebook late Sunday evening.
The video, posted by Audra D. Bridges at 7:30 P.M. Sunday, shows three men wearing radio equipment and security jackets speaking to a Dao, a doctor, seated on the plane. A few seconds into the 31-second clip, one of the men grabs Dao, who yells, and drags him toward the front of the plane. The video ends before anything else is shown.
A United spokesperson confirmed in an email Sunday night that a passenger had been removed from a flight in Chicago.
“Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked,” the spokesperson said. “After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate.
“We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.”
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz released the following statement:
“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”
Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was asking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville. Once passengers had boarded the plane, United then asked for four volunteers as four airline employees needed to be in Louisville for another flight. The passengers were told the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats, according to a fellow passenger, and that the airline increased their offer to $800. After no one volunteered to give up their seats, United staff reportedly chose Dao at random. He begged to be remain on the plane as he had patients to see the next morning in Louisville.
After being carried off, Dao somehow managed to get back on the plane, where he said repeatedly, “I have to get home.” According to passengers, his face was bloodied from when he was initially removed from the flight.
This incident comes after United Airlines recently came under fire for forcing passengers off a flight for wearing leggings.
Who Is David Dao?
David Dao is a 69-year-old grandfather and doctor. He is Vietnamese-American and previously worked at Hardin Memorial Hospital before opening his own medical practice. Per The Daily Mail, Dao’s wife Teresa, 69, is a pediatrician who trained at Ho Chi Minh University in Saigon and now practices in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Their eldest son Tim, 34, practices medicine in Texas; their second son Ben, 31, is a medical graduate; their daughter Christine, 33, is a doctor in Durham, NC; and their youngster daughter Angela, 27, is a medical graduate of the University of Kentucky.
However, Dao had his medical license suspended for more than a decade for illegally prescribing patients with painkillers. He spent more than two years in prison in the early 2000s for his past convictions. In 2003, he was charged with 98 counts of illegally prescribing and trafficking prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone, Oxycontin and Percocet.
Dao was caught on surveillance video meeting patients and supplying them with painkillers, mainly hydrocodone.
According to a criminal complaint on at least one occasion, Dao received $174 in exchange for the pills in an unlabeled bottle. From 2001-2003, Dao “unlawfully prescribed controlled substances” to patients, court documents said. The criminal complaint continued that Dao would solicit homosexual relations with a male patient in exchange for a prescription for hydrocodone.
Dao was arrested by police at a hotel room in Jefferson County on July 25, 2003. He was ultimately convicted of six charges.
In March 2016, board chair C. William Briscoe agreed to allow Dao to resume his practice of medicine in Kentucky.