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DelVal Officers Puts Unruly Passenger in Headlock on Flight from Florida

When a group of Delaware Valley cops got to the airport to fly home from Florida last week, they thought they were still on vacation. Instead, they found themselves “on the job” — and on an airplane.

Kenneth Stinson and four friends were getting on an American Airlines flight from Tampa to Philadelphia on March 19.

The men, who have been buddies since high school, grew up in Philadelphia’s Kensington/Port Richman section. They’re all police officers and spent a week in Florida to watch the Phillies’ spring training.

As they were boarding, they heard an announcement over the loudspeaker reporting an unruly passenger and asking “if there were any law enforcement on the plane who could assist,” said Stinson, 51, of Levittown. Stinson works for a suburban department, and his friends are Philadelphia officers.

Stinson didn’t hesitate to step in.

“That’s the oath,” he said. “And I’m going to help in any way I can. If I was a fireman, it would be the same thing.”

Stinson and his friends made their way back to row 30, where a disorderly man was. The man, later identified as Shaul Patel, 29,  called the flight attendant an antisemitic slur, “K***.” According to the affidavit he said, “F–k you blue-eyed white devils. I’m gonna take this plane down with all you mother****ers on it.”

Stinson tried to talk to Patel, but Patel began shoving him.

“He engaged in a physical fight, a physical confrontation,” said Stinson.

At that point, Stinson tells Patel, “Put your hands down and don’t touch anybody.” And then, “Turn around and walk. He takes Patel to the front of the plane, assisted by a woman who identifies herself as an officer, with his friends following behind them.

“It was a tense, rapidly evolving situation,” he said. They also checked to see if anyone else was involved, thinking Patel might have been creating a diversion for other bad actors.

Stinson was not injured, but one of his friends “tweaked his leg a bit,” he said.

They got Patel off the plane and waited for Tampa police to take him into custody. Reports said Patel was charged with disorderly intoxication and two counts of battery.

The plane left a half hour late.

American Airlines media relations sent this statement: “Prior to departure of American Airlines flight 2506 with service from Tampa (TPA) to Philadelphia (PHL), law enforcement was requested to the aircraft due to a disturbance in the cabin involving a disruptive customer. We thank our team for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

“I’m cooperating with Tamp Police,” said Stinson, who’s been in law enforcement for 21 years. He asked that the department he works for not be identified because he did not have permission to speak with the press.


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