September 24, 2022
LOS ANGELES, CA—A California man who was filmed punching an American Airlines flight attendant in the back of the head on a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles has been arrested, according to federal prosecutors.
Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, of Westminster, was charged Thursday with one count of interference with flight crew members and attendants, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, the Department of Justice stated in a news release.
Flight 377 landed in Los Angeles and Le was immediately detained by law enforcement officers who were waiting for him at the airport. The aircraft landed without incident and taxied to the gate.
Footage shared on social media, shows a flight attendant walking away from a passenger after appearing to have said: “Yeah, that’s a no.” Le runs up and appears to sucker punch the attendant in the back of the head, prompting other passengers to cry out, with one shouting: “Oh my God!”
The Justice Department alleged Le initially got up from his seat around 20 minutes after takeoff while flight attendants were conducting food and beverage service. The 33-year-old allegedly grabbed an attendant’s left shoulder and asked for coffee.
Moments later, Le then grabbed the attendant by both shoulders, prompting them to “put up a defensive posture.”
Le then moved to the front of the plane and loitered near the first-class cabin before sitting in an unoccupied aisle. That’s when a flight attendant approached him and requested he return to his assigned seat.
According to an affidavit, that’s when Le allegedly refused to comply and stood up and “assumed a fighting stance.” The flight attendant turned around to report Le’s behavior—after multiple missed punches—to the pilot and that’s when Le punched him in the back of the head.
U.S. airlines reported a rise in disruptive or violent incidents last year. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, about 5,981 “unruly passengers” were reported and most appear to involve federal requirements for face masks.
Feature Screenshot via NBC News