Attorney: Doctor’s Removal From United Flight Worse Than Leaving Vietnam

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CHICAGO (CBSMiami/AP) — A lawyer for the passenger forcibly removed from a United Express flight says the experience was more horrifying than when he left Vietnam during the fall of Saigon.

Dr. David Dao was dragged off a flight Sunday by airport police after he refused to give up his seat on the full plane to make room for crew members.

Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, said the 69-year-old father of five came to the U.S. in 1975.

His daughter says the family was “horrified, shocked and sickened” to learn and see what happened. Crystal Pepper says seeing her father removed from the Sunday flight was “exacerbated” by the fact it was caught on video and widely distributed.

Demetrio says he “probably” will file a lawsuit on Dao’s behalf. On Wednesday they filed an emergency motion in Cook County Circuit Court asking a judge to ensure the airline and city preserve surveillance video showing passengers boarding Flight 3411 to Louisville.

They’re also seeking cockpit voice recordings, incident reports and other materials.

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz has said he was “ashamed” when he saw the video and that the airline is reviewing its policies. Munoz says law enforcement won’t be involved in removing passengers in the future.

The video also shined an unwanted spotlight on the police force that guards Chicago’s two main airports and could threaten the agency’s future.

Alderman Chris Taliaferro says the cellphone footage has put the airport police at risk. He and other members of the city council were scheduled to grill United and the Chicago Aviation Department on Thursday about the incident.

At the top of their list of questions is whether the airport officers had the authority to board the plane. The officers aren’t part of the city’s regular police force, get less training and can’t carry firearms inside the airport grounds.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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