White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the video of a United Airlines passenger being violently dragged off a flight is troubling, but he cautioned that it would be inappropriate for the Trump administration to sound off on the incident.
Asked about the video at a Tuesday press briefing, Spicer said: “Clearly, watching another human being dragged down an aisle, watching blood come from their face after hitting an armrest… I don’t think there’s a circumstance that you can sit back and say, ‘I don’t think this could’ve been handled a little better’ when you’re dealing with another human being.”
Coverage of United Airlines has dominated the news cycle since late Sunday, when videos circulated showing a passenger being roughed up and forced from a plane after refusing to give up his seat. United described his removal as an “overbook situation.”
United CEO Oscar Munoz only made matters worse when he released a statement Monday apologizing for “having to re-accommodate” the passenger — rather than for the physical violence to which the man was subjected.
Spicer strongly suggested that the situation should have been handled differently.
“I think from a human-to-human standpoint, to watch another human being get dragged down an aisle with their head banging off armrests and not think that it could’ve been handled better — I would assume we could probably all agree on that,” Spicer said.
Spicer deferred to United Airlines and the Chicago Police Department for an investigation of the incident. He said President Trump had likely seen the video, but the commander in chief was inclined to not comment about potential ongoing investigations.
“I don’t think anyone looks at that video and isn’t a little disturbed that another human being is treated that way,” Spicer said. “But again, one of the things that people need to understand is that when there is a potential law enforcement matter, for the president to weigh in — pro or con — would prejudice a potential outcome.”
Other passengers have said that United overbooked the flight and asked for volunteers to offer their seats so the company could fly four of its employees to Louisville to catch another flight. United said no one accepted the offer of $800, and law enforcement was asked to intervene.
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