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06-02-09, 12:45 AM #1
California Officers Subdue Passenger on Flight
Vacationing Calif. cops subdue violent airline passenger
By Sean Webby
San Jose Mercury News
10 tips for officers engaged in off-duty incidents
Developing an Off-Duty Plan
Maintaining your winning mindset
Aim for peace, but be prepared for war
Have gun, will travel?
SAN JOSE, Calif. — At 40,000 feet over the Pacific, the only thing vacationing San Jose police officers Luan Nguyen and Manny Vasquez wanted was to catch some Z's, maybe see an action movie and finally hear the announcement: "Welcome to San Francisco International Airport."
What they heard instead was the captain: "I have a situation on board. If there are any law enforcement officers on board, please identify yourselves to a flight attendant."
Imagining pipe bombs, Vasquez nudged his drowsy sergeant. Nguyen had popped an Ambien and thought he was dreaming what he had just heard.
"Sarge," Vasquez said. "It's time to go to work."
The unarmed officers were soon battling a violent and possibly mentally ill man and holding him down for hours using seat belts, coffee cart straps and Vasquez's black cowhide belt he got for a birthday.
"I equate it to a doctor being on board and having a passenger having a heart attack," Vasquez, 46, said. "We don't have a Taser. We don't have restraints. We don't have vests. We don't have radios. What we are left with is what we started out with back in the day."
The officers on Thursday described their harrowing, high-altitude bust during a May 17 EVA Air flight somewhere between Taipei and San Francisco.
Nguyen and Vasquez, veteran street partners in the Foothill district on the city's East Side, were vacationing in Vietnam for two weeks. Nguyen, 44, was born there and still had some family in the country. Vasquez had a brother who had served in the country during the war. They both figured it would be a fun way to get some exotic R&R away from the daily stress of being a street cop.
They upgraded to Deluxe class and were ready for a long flight home.
Hours later, they went up to the cockpit as the captain apprised them that a male passenger had attacked a sleeping woman, choking her until other passengers managed to wrestle her to safety. There were no air marshals or any other security officers on board. So attendants had cleared the last rows of 30 passengers. He was back there, alone.
What else is back there, the officers asked.
The kitchen, the captain said. Knives, both officers thought at the same time.
And two exits, the captain added.
As they walked down the aisle — the officer in jeans and the sergeant in shorts — they saw him sitting in seat 71A.
He was staring, just staring.
The officers identified themselves.
What's your name, man? Nguyen said. What's going on?
The man just stared.
Nguyen looked at Vasquez and nodded.
They had worked together on the streets so long, Vasquez knew exactly what that gesture meant. This guy was on drugs, mentally ill — or both.
Vasquez leaned over to strap the man into his seat with the seat belt and the fight was on.
The man shrieked curses and death threats. He punched them and kicked out violently, his feet smashing the interior pane of the plane's window.
The watching passengers screamed.
"This wasn't good," Vasquez said. "The next thing I thought was of my daughter and my son and...uh-uh, I'm not going home."
Finally, the officers wrestled the man under control. They held him face down in the aisle, trussed him with whatever the officers could grab. Two passengers took turns sitting on his legs.
Vasquez tied his belt around the suspect's hands and held it with tension for the rest of the flight, 4 1/2 hours, switching hands when one went numb.
"If I let someone else take over, and this guy breaks loose, it would be horrible," Vasquez said.
The officers strapped a surgical mask on his face to stop him from spitting.
No to Alaska
At one point the captain asked the sergeant whether he should divert the plane.
Vasquez figured maybe they were near Hawaii. Not a bad idea. The pilot said the nearest airport was Anchorage, Alaska. Both officers agreed they would try to hold the passenger down until they got to San Francisco.
And they did. All the while the man stared at Nguyen saying, "I will remember you. I will get you."
At the end of the flight, airport police were waiting.
He turned out to be Jemi Lie, who had passports for Singapore and the United States. Lie was taken to Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame for a psychiatric evaluation and was charged with assaulting a passenger, according to federal officials.
Afterward, the passengers gave the two San Jose officers a round of applause. The pilot said he would one day buy them a couple of beers. The flight attendants gave them two decks of cards each and a toothbrush.
And then they got off the flight to be interviewed by the FBI. They both had to go back to patrol the next morning.
When he got home, Vasquez gave his 13-year-old son a model EVA Air plane. His son asked him, "Daddy, when the captain called, why didn't you just stay seated?"
Vasquez laughed at the idea, "They call you and ask for your assistance and it's, 'Let's go!' "
Nguyen shrugged the whole thing off as no big deal, something any San Jose officer would have done. He didn't even tell his parents about his airline adventure. He told them he was at the Grand Canyon.'Political Correctness is a doctrine fostered by a
delusional, illogical liberal minority, and rabidly
promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which
holds forth the proposition that it is entirely
possible to pick up a turd by the clean end!'
“A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.” Sigmund Freud
06-02-09, 12:53 AM #2
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.--
06-02-09, 01:19 AM #3
Good for them. All in a days work, I guess.
Choose The Right. When you're doing whats right, then you have nothing to worry about.
Not a LEO
In memory of Sgt. Howard K. Stevenson 1965 - 2005. Ceres Police Dept.
In memory of Robert N. Panos 1955 - 2008 Ceres Police Dept.
06-02-09, 01:50 AM #4
Follow members of O/R as they tweet a "Ride a long" on their shifts on the front page of the site and on twitter at the following links:
06-02-09, 02:20 AM #5
Outstanding job. The least the airline could do is refund their money for their flight since they didn't get to use their seats for most of the trip over. I also think the federal government should break out some stimulus money and pay them federal air marshal pay for their service.SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLUM-Ex-Sheriff Martin Howe to Will Kane in "High Noon"
"It's a great life. You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If your honest , your poor your whole life. And , In the end , you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
Far from being a handicap to command, compassion is the measure of it. For unless one values the lives of his soldiers and is tormented by their ordeals , he is unfit to command.
-General Omar Bradley, United States Army
06-02-09, 02:26 PM #6
Bravo!Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way" ~Martin Luther King, Jr
06-02-09, 02:52 PM #7
Well done gentlemen, my hats off to both of you!!"An Unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper
Some people are meant to be the police......Some people are meant to call the police!!!
"Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already have it."
" I believe that forgiving them (Terrorist) is God's function. OUR job is to arrange the meeting."
General Norman Schwartzkopf
Not all Muslims are Terrorists, but all Terrorists are Muslim.
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06-02-09, 03:04 PM #8
Well done.Be kind, be courteous . . .
and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
06-02-09, 10:00 PM #9
I just wanna know....wtf's wrong with Alaska? lolHe who has the money, signs the cheques.
He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
He who makes the rules, has the power.
He who has the power, has the money.
06-02-09, 10:54 PM #10
This is another example why trained and qualified LEO's should be allowed to carry gun and cuffs on flights. I know that several airlines have flex cuffs or real cuffs as standard equipment on the aircraft wonder why they did not have them on this aircraft. All that aside amaizing job by those officers.
06-02-09, 11:11 PM #11-=Twan007
Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in alignment with his employer. Matter of fact, the poster will deny any knowledge of any post... this message will self-destruct in 5 seconds...
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