Glen Allen Man Charged With Interfering With Flight Crew

January 12th, 2010 by

www.wtvr.com DENVER – A Glen Allen man was charged Monday with interfering with a flight crew in connection with a disturbance onboard an Airtran Airways flight on Friday.

Below is a press release from the FBI on the charges:

Muhammad Abu Tahir, age 47, of Glen Allen, Virginia, was charged by Criminal Complaint today with interference with a flight crew following his unruly behavior aboard an AirTran Airways Flight that was forced to land in Colorado Springs, Colorado on January 8, 2010, United States Attorney David Gaouette and FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis announced. Tahir will appear in U.S. District Court in Denver tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya. During the hearing Tahir will be advised of the charges pending against him. For the moment, until more information is gathered, the government will request pre-trial detention in this case. As such, a detention hearing and preliminary hearing will be scheduled for later this week.

According to the facts contained in the affidavit in support of the Criminal Complaint, on January 8, 2010, AirTran Airways Flight 39 was traveling from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to San Francisco International Airport. During the flight, Muhammad Abu Tahir became upset and disruptive after flight attendants refused to serve him additional alcoholic drinks. During the course of the flight, Tahir consumed five airplane-size bottles of wine. After being served the fifth bottle the flight crew refused to serve him any additional alcohol. Tahir then locked himself in the aircraft lavatory.

After a few minutes, Tahir opened the door of the lavatory and placed his shoes and socks outside the door. He then closed the lavatory door again. A short time later the defendant again opened the lavatory door, revealing that he was shaving with no shirt on. Tahir refused to leave the lavatory and started yelling at the flight attendant that he was being disrespected.

The flight attendant notified the Captain and Senior Flight Attendant of Tahir’s behavior. The Captain then asked the flight crew to find an able-bodied person to assist the flight attendants. One of the passengers was then asked to stand outside the lavatory door. Tahir continued to yell and refused to obey the flight crew. At one point, while attempting to calm Tahir down, he grabbed the arms and hands of the Senior Flight Attendant. Tahir released his grasp on her after one of the assisting passengers interceded.

Based on Tahir’s belligerent and aggressive behavior and refusals to comply with the instructions of the flight staff, a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher was brought to the rear of the aircraft should Tahir’s behavior escalate. Also, flight attendants positioned beverage carts in the rear and in the front of the aircraft to prevent Tahir from moving towards the cockpit. Because of Tahir’s actions and behavior, the Captain diverted the AirTrans Airways flight to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The aircraft landed while Tahir remained inside the lavatory. Once on the ground, Tahir was arrested by Colorado Springs Police Department officers. He was then questioned and arrested by the FBI.

“It is crucial that the flying public obey the commands of the flight crew,” said U.S. Attorney David Gaouette. “I would like to thank those members of the public who volunteered to assist the flight crew members handling this incident.”

“The FBI would like to extend its appreciation to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all of whom provided assistance in the January 8, 2010 AirTran Airways flight diversion and arrest of Muhammad Abu Tahir,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge James Davis.

If convicted, Tahir faces not more than 20 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine, or both, as well as restitution to the airline.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with substantial assistance from the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kasandra Carleton.

A Criminal Complaint is a probable cause charging document. Anyone accused of committing a federal felony crime has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.

These charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 


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