A belligerent passenger who allegedly threatened to open the emergency exit while in the air was subdued by fellow passengers
ROCHESTER — What would you do if you were on an airplane and an intoxicated passenger became loud, obnoxious and threatened to open the emergency exit?
News 10NBC heard from a passenger who says that's exactly what happened on a flight that landed in Rochester Tuesday night.
Malik Davis was heading to Rochester on a working vacation when he saved the day on his American Airlines flight after an "unruly" passenger allegedly threatened to open the emergency exit while the plane was in the air.
Davis comes to Rochester each summer with the owner of a Miami engineering firm who is from Rochester. Davis thought his flight from Miami to Rochester would be typical since he’s flown here before. However, it was only 30 minutes into his flight when something unforgettable happened, and Davis became a hero.
“He was like screaming on the plane. He was listening to music, but he was very loud," Davis said.
Monroe County deputies say an intoxicated male passenger began to give the female flight attendants and other passengers problems.
"There was actually an old lady next to him and he took off his headphones and was putting them on her head ... so the lady came back and told him 'I need you to relax or I’m going to have to kick you off and have the sheriff come get you once we land'," added Davis.
Davis said the loud singing stopped for a minute. Then, chaos ensued as the passenger, identified as 29-year-old Benjamin Cutulle of Gates, became belligerent when the flight attendant approached him.
“All of a sudden he was like 'f*** this ... I’m jumping off this plane. I’m going to get off this plane. I’m going to go through the emergency exit.' I was sitting by the emergency exit, so when I seen him run to the back, I stood in the middle of the aisle and said ‘sir relax.’ and he was like 'get the f*** out of my face, I’ll smack the f*** out of you'," Davis said.
That's when things continued to escalate.
"I grabbed him. I was trying to push him back and he started getting aggressive with me, so I kind of put him on the floor and when I put him on the floor he was getting wild ... so another guy came and pinned his arms down," Davis added.
Davis was concerned about his safety and the man making good on his threat: "Him opening the door ... the emergency exit. That’s all I was thinking about and I was not trying to experience that.”
Davis and the other passengers were able to keep the man pinned for the next 30 minutes when the flight landed in Rochester.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was alerted. Deputies were on standby and on the plane within minutes. Sgt. Gregory Wildman says they have a number of protocols for problems on planes.
"If it’s a safety issue we have different levels of alerts ... and the protocol would range from having vehicles on standby to shutting down everything," said Wildman.
Wildman says Cutulle was arrested and given an appearance ticket. He said it's a violation but added that federal authorities were also alerted. Cutulle is scheduled to appear in Rochester City Court on Friday.
No injuries were reported, and no flights were delayed because of the incident.