Forced Footsies Play Forces Southwest Flight to Make Emergency Landing
A man has been charged after forcing himself on a woman a Southwest flight and then becoming irate. The man was touching the woman sitting next to him and then tried to force her to play footsies with him. After the woman informed a flight attendant, the man became irate and the flight was forced to divert to Albuquerque.
The criminal complaint alleges that on Southwest Flight 859 from Los Angeles to Dallas, Justin Brafford sat in the middle seat. The woman sitting next to him said he put his hands on her legs. At first, the woman just ignored the advances. The accused then forced the woman to play footsies with him. She asked him to stop, and he tugged her sweater and started asking her personal details.
At this point, the woman informed the flight attendant that she wanted a seat change so that she could get away from Brafford. The flight attendant assumed they were a couple because of how close they were sitting. The flight attendant moved the woman to another part of the plane.
But that didn’t stop Brafford. He then went up to the woman at the new seat and confronted her. The woman reported that to the flight attendant, who spoke to Brafford. At that time, Brafford became irate and yelled at the flight attendant. The flight attendant thought he may have been on some kind of drug and notified the pilot. The pilot decided to divert the flight to Albuquerque, where Brafford was arrested.
Brafford admitted to police that he was high on methamphetamines the day before the flight and that he overdosed on heroin on Saturday. He also claimed that God was speaking to him on the flight.
Brafford claims that he and the victim were watching movies on the flight and that she was flirting with him. He said he was acting in response to her flirting. He admitted that he may have misread the signals.
Brafford was charged with interfering with a flight attendant and assault. If he is convicted, Brafford could face 20 years in prison for interfering with a flight attendant and up to a year for the assault charge.
Harassment on airplanes is not new, and there are many stories about passengers and flight crews dealing with it. Unwanted advances are always just that — unwanted. Respect your fellow passengers and flight crew and keep your hands to yourself. It sounds easy enough, but unfortunately is not. And importantly, although it can be hard, always notify the flight crew if you’re experiencing an issue like this. People are unpredictable, and it’s good to let the flight crew know. In this case, the flight crew would have had no idea if the woman didn’t say something.
H/T: Dallas Morning News