Call me a contrarian. I may be just one of a handful of people who believes that the individual forcibly removed from the infamous United Airlines flight should have followed the instructions of the police officers. Was Dr. David Dao a victim of United's negligence and outright greed? Yes. But, was he also wrong in refusing to abide by the orders of the police called to the scene? Yes, as well.
Pundits throughout the nation have vilified the police for dragging this doctor out of his seat and dragging him along the floor like a roped steer. One highly respected commentator on Fox News even suggested that the police officers should be criminally charged.
And, naturally, Dr. Dao's attorney labeled the police "storm troopers" and laid the foundation for the City of Chicago, and its deep pockets, to be liable for Dao's injuries, just as United should be.
First off, let's be clear that the real culprit in this whole affair is the airline, which overbooked its flight and then refused to offer a sufficient incentive to have people leave the plane voluntarily.
Some have rushed to judgment and called for airlines to stop overbooking. Be careful what you wish for, since this will cause prices for flights to rise significantly. On the other hand, if an airline is going to overbook, they have to assume the risk and be prepared to pay whatever it takes to get people to leave voluntarily.
United's decision to cap their incentive at a few hundred bucks, and then call in the cops after there were no takers, was unconscionable and greedy. It will certainly lead to a multi-million dollar settlement or judgment against them, and justifiably so.
But a question still remains here. The airline called in police officers to remove a number of individuals from the plane. Now put yourself in the position of these officers. They realize that order must be restored and that passengers must abide by directives from the airline personnel. These officers knew they had to get control of the situation for this plane to leave in a somewhat timely fashion. Forgotten in all of this is there were scores of all the passengers who had to get to their destinations.
The officers asked the doctor to leave the plane; he refused. What exactly were the officers supposed to do at this point? Were they supposed to just say: "OK, no problem. We will just leave."? Were they supposed to engage in an hour-long debate with him? Were they supposed to call for more reinforcements? What would that do? He still wasn't going to move.
The proper thing for this doctor to have done, as is the case with all who disagree with a police officer's directive, is to comply with the order and seek legal redress after the fact.
I have been a big critic of protesters throughout the nation defying the police. If they don't like a police officer asking them to move away from a dangerous situation or to show their hands, or to stop walking away, they often either ignore the officer, or worse, get in their faces and challenge them. A coddling of this type of abhorrent behavior fosters chaos and a breakdown of the social order.
If we're going to be critical of members of Black Lives Matter or other left-wing protesters who defy police directives, shouldn't we be equally as concerned when an everyday passenger on the plane refuses to abide by a police officer's orders?
It appears from the video that the officers gave Dao ample time to leave. When he refused, the officers physically removed him from his seat. As they were moving him, his face struck the seat in front of him causing a gash.
While some say the police acted to too violently, we must ask: How are you supposed to remove a 200-pound man from his seat when he refuses to do so? At some point police must use physical means to have a disobedient person comply with their requests.
I hope the doctor gets a big settlement from United, which deserves punishment for its arrogance. But the public should lay off of the police who were just trying to do their jobs.
You might not like what it looked like, but I can assure you we will like it a lot less when social order breaks down because police have become impotent.
Steve Levy is president of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County executive, as a New York State Assemblyman, and host of "The Steve Levy Radio Show."
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