An unruly passenger was arrested after allegedly hitting a flight attendant in the chest with the plane's phone. The passenger, Christopher Morgan, told the FBI that the flight attendant made him “uncomfortable” because he is “homophobic,” according to the criminal complaint.
On April 22, Morgan was flying from Atlanta, Georgia, to Phoenix, Arizona, in a first class seat when he had several interactions with an unidentified male flight attendant. The attendant told investigators that prior to takeoff, Morgan refused to put his seat belt on or bring his chair back to the upright position when he was instructed to do so by the flight crew. Another flight attendant had to push the button to bring Morgan's seat upright for him, the complaint said.
During the flight, Morgan was served one alcoholic beverage, according to the attendant. When Morgan asked for another, he was denied and instead offered a non-alcoholic drink. The attendant told investigators this made Morgan angry and resulted in him calling both attendants several slurs, including “queer” and the “f-word” and allegedly threw a glass of ice at the attendant who was allegedly assaulted. He also allegedly raised his voice at another passenger who expressed concern.
When the attendant tried to use the airplane phone to inform the captain of the incident, Morgan allegedly left his seat, grabbed the phone from the attendant, and hit him with it in the chest.
Morgan was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department when the plane arrived.
According to the complaint, during an interview with the FBI, Morgan said that he is “homophobic,” and was “uncomfortable” about the fact that his flight attendant was gay. He said this may have fueled his anger on the plane. Morgan also admitted to calling the attendant a “queer,” but denied assaulting him or ever touching the phone.
“Delta has zero tolerance for unruly behavior and discrimination at our airports and aboard our aircraft and takes all reports of such behavior seriously, especially when directed at our employees,” the airline said when asked for comment. “Nothing is more important than the safety of our people and our customers.”
If convicted, Morgan could face up to 20 years in prison for interfering with a flight crew member or attendant's duties. Neither Georgia nor Arizona have state laws that ban the use of gay “panic” as a reasonable defense against assault.
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