A passenger on an Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai to Chicago says he was beaten and bound on the plane, but other passengers and the airline have a different version of events.
On Saturday, 74-year-old David Ukesone appeared at a press conference at Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters in Chicago with bandages around his ankles and wrists after he said he was bound with metal wires for eight hours on board a flight last month.
“They come to the other side and grabbed me here, with iron wire and tied me up,” he said.
Ukesone was flying from Nigeria via Dubai to Chicago on Jan. 23 when he says that airline attendants and security beat and bound him.
“I was tortured,” he said.
Rev. Jesse Jackson said Emirates Airlines used “excessive and unnecessary” violence against him.
Emirates Airlines disagrees, however. The airline issued a statement:
“Mr. Ukesone behaved in an unacceptable manner during the flight, disrupting other passengers and endangering himself and others on the flight…Our crew made every effort to speak with him and to defuse the situation, but he became agitated and was not to be reasoned with. He assaulted our crew and even hit another passenger.”
Passenger Chad Birkholz was on the flight with Ukesone and sat one row over from where the incident took place.
“I’d say he was just confrontational with every flight attendant, even though I saw them a number of times come over and ask him what the issue was.”
Ukesone’s attorney denies that he was disruptive on the plane, and says his client was not charged with a crime. Ukesone says he spent several days in the hospital due to injuries he says he sustained during the restraint.
Rainbow PUSH says they are requesting meetings with Emirates Airlines and Nigerian officials, and also say they are planning on filing a lawsuit.