This was originally published on Liberal America on April 7, 2016.
A New York man has been sentenced to prison because he interrupted a United Airlines flight. David Patrick Diaz of Poughkeepsie, NY was sentenced to nine months in prison and three years of supervised release. He also owes United Airlines around $22,000 in fines, and has to get mental health and substance abuse treatment.
On March 16, Diaz was on a flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver when he disrupted the flight. Less than a minute after take off, Diaz ran to the front of the plane and started pulling on the cockpit door yelling:
“The plane is not going fast enough. We need to go faster. It’s going to go down. We are going down.”
Three passengers and a flight attendant managed to subdue him. He was yelling that there was something planted in the belly of the plane. Witnesses also heard the words “jihad” and “bomb” come out of his mouth. The plane re-routed back to Dulles airport, and Diaz was arrested after they landed there. He also shouted things like “I live next to Apple,” and “I live next to Boeing.”
The men that subdued him acted thoroughly and quickly. They tackled Diaz, removed his shoes, and checked him for weapons.
The prosecutor has said that Diaz has some mental health problems. He has gotten three DUIs while awaiting trial. Prosecutors originally asked for a twenty-one month sentence, but the judge only gave him nine months.
Hopefully, this man can get the mental health care that he needs. Prison is no place for a mentally ill person.