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United Airlines

Cop Who Dragged David Dao Sues United Airlines

Cop Who Dragged David Dao Sues United Airlines
Jeff Edwards

A former aviation security officer fired for his part in the violent removal of a flyer from an overbooked flight has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $150K from United Airlines and the City of Chicago.

On August 8, 2017, Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) Aviation Security Officer James Long lost his job in the fallout over a now-infamous incident in which officers physically dragged a 69-year-old physician from his seat on a United Airlines Express flight in order to make room for employees traveling on company business. Video of the officers violently removing the senior citizen from the aircraft caused public outrage and eventually cost the four officers involved their jobs.

Now, Long is suing his former employer along with United Airlines for lost wages and a substantial punitive award as a result of his termination. According to court papers obtained by The Chicago Sun Times, lawyers for the now-unemployed Long are seeking more than $150,000 in damages in a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

An investigation by Office of Inspector General last year found evidence of a coverup by some of the officers involved. According to the official report on the incident, the officers “made misleading statements and deliberately removed material facts from their reports.” Investigators further concluded, “The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose, and the loss of two teeth.”

Long maintains that not only was he not properly trained for the tense situation aboard United Airlines Flight 3411, but he also claims that airline officials should have foreseen the eventual violent outcome when officers were called to remove the already seated paying passenger from the soon-to-depart flight.

While United Airlines and Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) were both named in the lawsuit, the court filing singles out Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans for failing to create an effective training program for “how to respond to an escalating situation” involving the flying public. Long also claims that in a string of social media posts and comments to the press, Evans made “deliberate and intentionally misleading omissions with the direct intention to harm.”

In the days following the embarrassing, headline-grabbing incident, Evans is alleged to have made a series of untrue and disparaging remarks about the officers involved. The lawsuit notes that Evans posted a tweet noting that officers were unarmed “for good reason” and made unfounded on-the-record comments indicating that the officers’ actions were “completely inappropriate.” Long has also accused his former boss of inaccurately implying that he “sexually harassed or criminally stalked” her following his termination.

Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (6)


  1. danbrew

    April 11, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Lol all the way around. I recall when this happened there were UA/O’Hare/Cop apologists all saying the cops were in the right and the passenger was wrong. I hadn’t heard that the cop had been fired, but predicted that exactly that would happen. Good. Now he’s suing because, well, because. No way he seems a dime imho.

  2. strickerj

    April 12, 2018 at 4:43 am

    My first reaction to the headline was to scoff at the thought of the officer being a victim, but if he was fired and subsequently slandered for following procedure when it’s the procedure that was flawed, then I’m inclined to think he has a case (against the department, not United).

  3. FlyingNone

    April 12, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    ..”flawed procedure/lack of training”……??……He’s delirious if he thinks the Chicago Aviation Commission and United Airlines owe him money for his violent reaction. You (Long) are part of an airport security team and you don’t have a clue how to handle people in heated situations and then you want to think because the situation was hot that it should have been foreseen ? I’m pretty sure when Mr. Long was interviewed for his job (how many YEARS AGO ?) that he didn’t feign ignorance or inability to handle police or security situations.

  4. SpaceCoastBill

    April 13, 2018 at 9:16 am

    The guy was not a police officer, there is a big distinction here. Odds are they just put these guys in uniforms and put them out there as a visual deterrent. When it went (predictably) sideways the usual reaction on corrupt governments like Chicago is to fire first, ask questions later. His claim sound plausible for me after 2 decades as a real police officer.

  5. Mordor2112

    April 13, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Those “agents” acted like uncontrolled robots despite having many years of experience. Good for the passengers who won’t have to meet those a-holes in future bad situations.


    April 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    But it is odd that Bryan Bedford, who is the CEO of Republic, the commuter carrier that actually operated this flight as United Express, never gets mentioned. After all, it is repositioning of Republic crew members—and the failure of these crew members not checking into the flight until the last minute, no less—that got this scenario in motion.

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