President Donald Trump weighed in on the United Airlines fiasco Wednesday, just as new footage of the moments leading up to the violent removal of the passenger surfaced online.
Speaking from the Oval Office, Trump told the Wall Street Journal he thinks airlines should be allowed to overbook flights, but he noted United’s treatment of the passenger, 69-year-old Dr. David Dao, was “horrible.”
“You know, there’s a point at which I’m getting off the plane — seriously,” said Trump, who owns his own airplane. “They should have gone up higher [when offering money to passengers to take later flights]. But to just randomly say, ‘You’re getting off the plane,’ that was terrible.”
United CEO Oscar Munoz, who initially commended the way the incident was handled, in an internal memo to employees, appeared on “Good Morning America” Wednesday after United’s stock tanked and apologized to Dao.
“He was a paying customer,” Munoz said. “No one should be treated that way.”
New footage posted on YouTube by a passenger sitting behind Dao shows the Kentucky doctor telling two Chicago Aviation Department officers standing over his seat that he is a doctor who needs to get home to see his patients.
“I’m a physician, have to work tomorrow, 8 o’clock,” he said. “I’m not going. I am not going.”
When one of the officers says they’ll have to drag him off, Dao replies, “Then drag me, I’m not going.” He also threatens a lawsuit if they use force.
It’s not clear how much time elapsed between the video being shot and officers ripping Dao out of his seat, bloodying his face on an armrest, and dragging him off the plane. At least three officers involved in the incident have been put on leave pending an investigation.
There’s growing evidence that Dao plans to follow through on his threat of a lawsuit. He’s hired an attorney, described by the Chicago Tribune as a “high-powered personal injury lawyer,” who filed for an emergency court order with the Cook County Circuit Court Wednesday to preserve all evidence related to the case.
The motion requests the airline preserve surveillance video of the passengers boarding the plane, cockpit voice recordings, passenger and crew manifests, the personnel files of the police involved in the incident, and United’s protocols for removing passengers.
Dao, through his attorneys, has so far declined to comment, but he announced he will hold a press conference Thursday morning in Chicago.