Sheriff takes down drunken passenger on Charlotte-bound flight


Charged: Preston Bluntson

MILWAUKEE, WI — The sheriff of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office detained a passenger who was harassing flight crew and intimidating passengers on a flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte Saturday afternoon, according to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office said Sheriff David Clarke intervened midway through the flight when a man became intoxicated, loud and profane and began harassing flight crew and passengers. At one point, he started to argue with a flight attendant.

“This goof took the cabin over like it was his private jet. He was moving up and down the aisles, he was in different seats. He was intoxicated, cursing and swearing. It was very intimidating for a lot of the passengers and the flight crew on that plane and so I kept my eyes on him the entire time… I did [what] was instinctive in me; that was to protect and take action. And I just had to pick a spot, I didn’t want to have to be grappling with this guy for an hour,” Sheriff Clarke said.

The sheriff left his seat and asked if everything was all right and told the man to “chill out.” One passenger sitting near the sheriff nervously stated that he “was glad I was on that flight.”

The sheriff’s office said Clarke directed the flight attendant to radio airport police to be standing by on arrival. The man continued his obnoxious behavior and on approach to landing he got out of his seat. The flight attendant told him to return to his seat and he continued to be loud and profane, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said while the plane taxied to the gate he began taunting the Sheriff, asking him what he was going to do about it. Several times during the flight he yelled to everyone that Sheriff Clarke was on the plane.

The sheriff’s office said Sheriff Clarke again got out of his seat and approached the obnoxious passenger who tried to get up. Clarke ordered him to sit down and when he refused, Clarke shoved the unruly passenger face down and pinned him against the seat and held him there until the flight arrived at the gate, according to the sheriff’s office.

“When I told him to sit down, he wouldn’t. So, then I shoved him face down into the seat, pinned him against the seat and put one arm behind his back, told him to stay there [and] not resist arrest. I told the flight attendant to radio for police at the gate, to have the police meet me there – they did. When they boarded, I asked the officer who came up to me, I said, ‘give me your handcuffs.’ She did, and then I handcuffed him, [and] turned him over. I didn’t worry about jurisdiction or that nonsense. I had to worry about protecting people,” Clarke said.

The sheriff watched the rest of the cabin, concerned that this may be a distraction for something else, according to the sheriff’s office. A police officer boarded the flight and the Sheriff asked for her handcuffs and pulled both arms behind the suspect’s back and handcuffed him. The airport police took hold of the suspect and escorted him off the plane.

Other officers were on hand and the passenger began yelling at the officers at the gate where numerous passengers were waiting to board, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said numerous passengers on the flight thanked the Sheriff for taking control of the situation. One of the pilots expressed gratitude to the Sheriff for intervening.

One of the passengers, a news editor from Milwaukee, said of Sheriff Clarke that he “witnessed the verbal abuse he took from another passenger. I thought he really handled himself well and did not respond or escalate what could have been a very bad situation in the air. He handled him well when we landed and had him arrested. He deserves a lot of credit. This guy was way over the top and also drinking. A very bad mix that could have gone really bad at 31,000 feet.”

CMPD charged Preston Bluntson, age 36, of Milwaukee, with ‘Intoxicated and Disruptive in Public,’ and reported that he was not at all cooperative during the intake process.

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