3 women charged with assaulting Delta employees after flight attendants told them they couldn't board a flight to Puerto Rico because they were too drunk, prosecutors say

·4 min read
A Delta aircraft.
A Delta aircraft.James D. Morgan/Getty Images
  • Three women were charged with assault and were accused of attacking Delta employees.

  • Court documents alleged the women were told they were too drunk to board a flight to Puerto Rico.

  • If convicted, the three women face up to 10 years in prison.

Three women have been charged with assault in an incident in which they're accused of attacking Delta employees who told them they couldn't board a flight from New York to Puerto Rico because they were too drunk, according to court documents reviewed by Insider.

Long Island residents Jordan Nixon, Janessa Torres, and Johara Zavala were arrested on Thursday in connection to a September 22 incident at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to a press release from the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York.

In the letter to a judge, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said that the women's flight from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico, was delayed nearly five hours on September 22, and surveillance videos and bar receipts show they ordered around nine alcoholic drinks while they waited for their flight.

Peace said in the letter that when the women got to their gate, Delta employees determined they should be denied access to their flight because "they were acting belligerent, one of the defendants was refusing to wear her mask properly, and Zavala was visibly disoriented and possibly intoxicated."

The flight crew was notified of the intoxication, and a member of the crew and the captain stepped off the plane to observe the women, before determining that they were too drunk to board, Peace wrote.

Delta offered the women an opportunity to rebook the flight later in the day, Peace added.

Peace said that the women were then asked to leave the area, and an altercation ensued, during which Nixon is accused of taking a Delta ground security officer's radio and hitting him on the head with it, Torres is accused of stepping on the same security officer, and Zavala is accused of punching a Delta gate agent in the face.

According to Peace's letter, flight crews were able to pull one of the employees behind a glass door, but the "three defendants continued to scream and strike at the Flight crew as they attempted to hold the doors closed."

The security officer and gate agent were taken to the hospital and have not returned to work since the alleged attack, Peace said in the letter to the judge.

Nixon's attorney said in a statement to Insider that Nixon "maintains her innocence and she denies the allegations" made by prosecutors.

The attorneys for Torres and Zavala both declined to comment on the matter.

"The extreme and aggressive behavior in connection with our air travel is out of control," Peace said in a statement. "This Office has zero tolerance for violent conduct that threatens the safety of airline passengers and employees and will prosecute defendants who allegedly engage in such conduct to the fullest extent of the law."

Delta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

A spokesperson for the US Attorney's office confirmed to Insider that the women were arraigned on Thursday and each released on a $25,000 bond.

Their next court appearance is on February 3, in front of US District Judge Raymond Dearie.

If convicted, the three women face up to 10 years in prison.

Airline workers union representatives have been outspoken about their concerns with pre-flight drinking, calling on terminal operators to implement more strict policies around the sale and consumption of alcohol in airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it logged more than 6,000 incidents of unruly passengers in 2021, though most of those did not lead to criminal charges.

Recent indictments or unruly passengers reflect the Justice Department's elevated priority of aviation-related crimes following Attorney General Merrick Garland instructions to federal prosecutors back in November.

Before Garland's announcement, the department could spend a year or longer preparing to charge a suspect in an unruly passenger incident.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting