David Clarke Jr. has proudly earned his national reputation as a tough law-and-order sheriff.
Last Saturday he certainly cemented that reputation after he personally handcuffed a belligerent passenger on a truly awful flight.
The Milwaukee County sheriff tells reporters that he grew tired of an intoxicated and abusive passenger that would not stop harassing him during the two-hour flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte, N.C.. So, he took matters into his own hands.
Keith Trietley, a spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, confirmed that Preston Bluntson, 36, was arrested and booked by police at around 7:10 p.m. Eastern time. He was being held late Saturday in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Trietley said a police report on the incident was not yet available.
But a passenger on the American Airlines flight, who asked not to be named, said Bluntson talked throughout the plane ride, becoming increasingly loud and obnoxious and directing many of his comments at Clarke, who was on the back of the small plane.
The guy was very abusive,” the passenger said. “Probably the last 20 minutes it really escalated and focused on Clarke.”
According to the passenger, Bluntson, who is African-American, repeatedly used a racial epithet, accused Clarke of “closing our parks” and said the sheriff is “not one of us.”
A number of people tried unsuccessfully to engage Bluntson — who appeared to be drinking throughout the flight — and to get him to calm down but without success, the passenger said. He added that Clarke responded only once, telling the man to “shut up.”
“In all my years flying, I’ve never seen anything like it,” the passenger said.
“The sheriff handled himself extremely well. It could have gotten a lot worse because the guy was not backing down.”
But, Clarke didn’t back down either.
When the plane landed, Clarke held Bluntson down, and a Charlotte police officer then came on board and handcuffed the Milwaukee man, according to the passenger. Three or four other officers then met Bluntson when he left the plane, and Clarke filled out paperwork on the incident.
In an email Clark said that “After I pinned him across the seats to maintain control he said…’Oh you’re one of those kind of niggers,’”
“He stopped, sensing I wasn’t playing around. I thought that would take care of it but it did not,” Clarke said.
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