San Francisco

Police Officers Shouldn't do Airlines' Dirty Work: San Francisco Supervisor

United Airlines video prompts proposal to change local law

It should never happen here — that’s what one San Francisco supervisor says about the violent forced removal of a United Airlines passenger from a flight on Sunday.

“I think all of us were outraged by the video we saw over the weekend,” Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said Tuesday. “The amount of force that was used to get him off the plane was appalling.”

The passenger, identified as Kentucky physician Dr. David Dao, refused to get up after the airline demanded he give up his seat on flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville. The flight was fully boarded, but United personnel said they had to make room for four crew members who were added to the flight at the last minute.

Sheehy was so struck by the escalation, which left the passenger bloodied, that the supervisor is proposing San Francisco change city code. Sheehy says police officers here shouldn’t be thrust into a position where they are forced to do an airline’s dirty work – like they were in Chicago.

"I don't think our law enforcement officials should be spending their time helping an airline enforce a dumb rule and enforce their business failure," he said. Sheehy believes that law enforcement should only intervene when the airlines establish a risk to safety or threat to security.

He said he’s asking the city attorney for guidance on how best to implement such a proposal.

United on Monday focused blame on the passenger for failure to comply with the crew’s instructions to give up his seat.

The carrier faced backlash on social media and its stock dropped as much as 4 percent.

The airline’s tone changed Tuesday.

United Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz issued an apologetic letter.

“I’m sorry,” he wrote, vowing to “fix what’s broken to ensure this never happens again.”

The social media firestorm continues, including renewed calls for a boycott, but United stock rebounded slightly.

Today, a United Airlines spokesman told NBC Bay Area that they “rarely” deny passengers who have already boarded a plane. But the spokesman insisted the airline retains that right – to deny you a seat after you’ve boarded — as was the case, apparently, with the weekend flight from Chicago to Louisville.

United said the review of its policies, including its interaction with law enforcement, is due April 30.

“I promise you we will do better,” Munoz wrote.

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