Officer fired after helping drag passenger off United Airlines flight is now suing firm

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A former Chicago aviation police officer involved in dragging a 69-year-old doctor off a United Airlines plane is now suing the firm and the city after he was fired.

James Long was one of several officers filmed removing David Dao from his seat on the overbooked flight in April last year to make room for airline employees.

He has now filed suit against United, Chicago’s Department of Aviation and its commissioner, Ginger Evans. The lawsuit, filed in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, alleges he was not properly trained on how to use force.

Video footage recorded by other passengers showed Dr Dao being dragged by Chicago aviation police, including Mr Long, down the aisle of the plane. Dr Dao had been asked to give up his seat to airline employees on a flight from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, and he had refused.

Dr Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose and lost two front teeth as a result of the fracas. He later settled for an undisclosed sum with the airline, which apologised for how he was treated.

United originally blamed the incident on having overbooked the flight, and subsequently changed its policy on how to handle overbooked flights.

Mr Long was fired by the city following the incident, which quickly went viral online, sparking public anger against United and the US airline industry for its history of customer service failures.

In the suit, Mr Long maintained he had used “minimal but necessary force” to remove Dr Dao and that United knew or should have known that the involvement of aviation police in the incident could result in “the use of physical force”.

Mr Long is seeking damages relating to his loss of salary as an aviation officer, benefits including vacation, insurance coverage and retirement plans, and punitive damages and legal costs, according to the lawsuit.

A spokesman for the city’s department of law, Bill McCaffrey, said it had not yet received the lawsuit and was therefore not commenting.

Spokesmen for United did not return a request for comment.

Reuters