We Now Know Which Cops Assaulted David Dao on His United Flight—and They're Still Blaming Him

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Police reports about the infamous assault on United Airlines passenger David Dao appear to cast blame on him for some of the injuries seen in the disturbing videos of the incident which were viewed by millions of people around the world. In addition, the officers involved have finally been named publicly.


According to the reports about the April 9 incident, which were released Monday in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by the Los Angeles Times and others, two of the four officers involved said Dao, 69 was responsible for the serious injuries he sustained. The officers claimed that Dao fought back when they tried to remove him from the flight, causing the officers to lose their grip and Dao to fall face-first into a nearby armrest.

It’s unclear whether the reports grappled with the idea that being forcibly removed from a plane against your will might cause someone to become agitated.


The reports also reveal for the first time the names of the four officers involved–James Long, Mauricio Rodriguez Jr., Steven Smith, and Sgt. John Moore–all of whom were placed on leave by the Chicago Department of Aviation after the incident. The Times reported that two of the officers, Long and Moore, were previously disciplined by the city for workplace violations that did not involve physical altercations.

Long, the officer primarily involved in the run-in, wrote in his report that, after Dao again refused to leave the plane to make room for four United employees scheduled to fly from Louisville the next day:

...the subject started swinging his arms up and down with a closed fist. Ofc. Long was able to grab the subject and pull him away from the window seat towards the aisle. But suddenly the subject started flailing and fighting. Consequently, the subject was able to knocked [sic] the right hand of Ofc. Long off of his arm and shoulder area, which caused the subject to fall, hit, and injure his mouth on the armrest on the other side of the aisle.


Long also said that when a clearly disoriented Dao dashed back onto the plane after he was finally dragged down the aisle and off the aircraft, told the officers they’d “have to kill him.”


Rodriguez, who was the first officer on board the plane, offered a similar account in his write-up, saying Dao “started flailing his arms and started to fight with Ofc. Long” after telling the officers, “I don’t care if I get arrested” for refusing to leave the flight.

Thomas Demetrio, Dao’s Chicago-based personal injury attorney, called the reports “utter nonsense,” adding, “Consider the source.”


The incident sparked international outrage, and prompted an eventual apology from company CEO Oscar Munoz. 

Managing Editor, Splinter

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