A Morehouse College professor on a cross-country trip got more than he bargained for when he reportedly joined other passengers to help detain an unruly, off-duty flight attendant on a Delta flight over the weekend.
According to Atlanta station WXIA, the plane was flying from Los Angeles to Atlanta on the evening of June 12. Rashaun Williams said he was seated next to the man before a confrontation erupted.
“He was exhibiting some weird behavior and asked me a bunch of personal questions: What’s your name? What do you do? Where do you live in Atlanta? Can I get your phone number? Do you have a business card?” Williams, a Morehouse alumnus and adjunct professor in the school’s Business and Economic division, told the station.
Williams said that not long after the man asked him the series of questions he tried to take control of the flight’s PA system. Subsequently, the captain pleaded for help.
“We'd like all strong males to the front of the aircraft to handle a problem passenger,” the captain said, according to the viral video of the incident.
“As soon as I stood up, he’s coming right towards me, facing me,” Williams said, according to WXIA.
“I immediately jump, grabbed his shoulders, pulled his hood over his head, pull him to the ground. Now, I’m holding him on the ground and he’s kicking, someone’s grabbing his feet.”
The man, whose name has not been released, was allegedly having mental health issues which resulted in the skirmish with passengers and crew. The aircraft made an emergency stop in Oklahoma City. Delta Airlines confirmed to CBS Los Angeles that the passenger was an off duty flight attendant and was taken into custody once the plane landed.
The airlines said that rumors that he tried to open the cabin door mid flight are untrue, but he did have to be detained by the crew. Williams told WXIA that it’s confirmation that there’s a need for more mental health care and more knowledge about how to deal with mental health emergencies.
“It’s up to us as citizens to invest in our own mental health, to be compassionate with people and to learn how to diffuse situations without them becoming dangerous,” he said.