A California man has been charged in connection with an alleged assault on an American Airlines flight attendant last week, which was described by the airline’s CEO as “one of the worst displays of unruly behavior we’ve ever witnessed.”
Federal prosecutors said Brian Hsu has been charged with assault and interference with a flight crew. US Magistrate Judge Autumn Spaeth set Hsu’s bond at $10,000 during an initial court appearance on Monday. Flight 976 from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Santa Ana, California, was diverted to Denver after the incident last week. According to an FBI affidavit, part of a criminal complaint filed Friday, the flight attendant told investigators the confrontation began when a male passenger approached her as she stood in the mid-galley section of the plane when, she said, she felt something strike her in the head.
When she turned to see what had struck her, she saw a male passenger and asked if he was all right. The flight attendant told the FBI that he did not apologize and instead just stated that he needed to use the bathroom. The flight attendant told the man the bathroom was occupied and he would need to wait in his seat because the “fasten seatbelt” sign was on, the affidavit says. “The Victim advised that the male passenger raised his arms as though he were going to stretch, but then brought his elbow down and struck the Victim on the head,” the affidavit says. Investigators said the flight attendant told them she then took a defensive position and the passenger initially backed down, “but then charged at her, flailing his arms.”
“This caught the attention of another flight attendant, who came to assist. The male passenger backed down again, but when he charged at the Victim this time, he struck her in the face with the closed fist of his right hand,” the affidavit says. According to a witness interviewed by the FBI, the man struck the flight attendant with a “full swing,” the complaint says. The flight attendant “advised that her nose was bleeding and she felt dizzy and nauseous,” the criminal complaint says.