A misunderstanding aboard a Chicago-bound flight led to a Nigerian man immigrating to the U.S. getting hit and having his mouth taped, his lawyer claims.
David Ukesone was left with a welt on his face from flight attendants, who also tied the 71-year-old Nigerian man up, lawyer Howard Schaffner told ABC News.
“The man did nothing more than sit in the wrong seat,” Schaffner told the network. “Even if he’s in the wrong seat you don’t have to beat the guy.”
Schaffner said he plans to file a lawsuit against Emirates airline over the alleged incident.
Ukesone, a retired police officer in Nigeria with no known criminal history, was on the second leg of his trip to the U.S. on Jan. 23 when the scuffle broke out.
He’d recently been granted a visa to join his wife, who moved to the U.S. about four months ago, and their adult children.
Schaffner told ABC News it was the first time Ukesone was on a plane in 35 years.
The first part of his trip — from Nigeria to Dubai — went off without a hitch.
But his voyage went into a tailspin about eight hours before it arrived in Chicago.
Ukesone got up from his assigned seat — 35D — to use the restroom, but mistakenly sat down in the wrong one afterward.
Schaffner said Ukesone was “very close” to his assigned seat, and didn’t intend to sit in the reserved section.
He spoke with a flight attendant, and was left bewildered.
“They told him he was in the wrong seat and they laid hands on him to move him and that’s when everything escalated,” Schaffner told ABC News.
David Ukesone, 71, claims the crew punched him, bound him and taped his mouth.
Although Ukesone speaks English, his lawyer said, he has trouble comprehending the language when a non-Nigerian speaks it.
A scuffle ensued, with one of the Emirates flight attendants hitting Ukesone, leaving a “large welt on his face.”
“He also has significant wounds on his wrists and ankles,” Schaffner told ABC News.
Ukesone wasn’t given food or water and his mouth was taped for the remaining eight hours of his flight.
An Emirates spokesperson fired back at the claims in a statement to the Daily News, and said Ukesone “had to be restrained by cabin crew due to unruly behaviour during the flight.”
Ukesone became unruly aboard the flight, the spokesperson added, and charged into another class on the flight. The representative said Ukesone also assaulted the flight crew, and even tried to bit a passenger.
“Our cabin crew are highly trained to ensure the safety and security of our passengers, and constantly monitored Mr. Ukesone’s welfare throughout the flight,” the spokesperson added. “The safety and security of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised.”
He was wheeled off the plane in a stretcher afterward, and brought to a hospital while his son wasn’t sure of his whereabouts.
“He’s waiting for hours and he starts to check and asks people about his dad,” the lawyer said.
Ukesone was treated at the University of Chicago Medical Center for four days, according to local ABC affiliate WLS.
There was never an arrest or a police report for the incident, ABC News reported.