Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke detained a drunk and disorderly passenger who personally berated him aboard an American Airlines flight over the weekend.
Preston Bluntson, 36, was arrested and booked by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department around 7:10 p.m. Saturday after he reportedly got belligerent with passengers and airline staff.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that Sheriff Clarke was on the flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte, North Carolina, when the man became “intoxicated, loud and profane and began harassing flight crew and passengers.”
The sheriff eventually got out of his seat and told the man to “chill out,” the release said.
“Several times during the flight he yelled to everyone that Sheriff Clarke was on the plane,” it continued.
When the plane started taxiing, “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,” the release stated.
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A police officer boarded the flight and Mr. Bluntson was taken into custody. He is charged with intoxication and disruptive behavior.
A passenger on the flight, who asked not to be named, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Mr. Bluntson became increasingly obnoxious and directed many of his comments at Sheriff Clarke, who was seated in the back of the small plane.
“The guy was very abusive,” the passenger said. “Probably the last 20 minutes, it really escalated and focused on Clarke.”
Mr. Bluntson, who is black, repeatedly used a racial epithet against Sheriff Clarke and claimed he is “not one of us,” the passenger said.
Sheriff Clarke is a prominent black conservative and Donald Trump supporter.
“The sheriff handled himself extremely well. It could have gotten a lot worse because the guy was not backing down,” the passenger said.
Sheriff Clarke stressed that such in-flight incidents should be charged as federal statute violations, and reviewed by the United States Attorney’s Office “to send a message of deterrence to passengers about interfering with flight crews and intimidating passengers.”
“In fairness to local police, the FBI and TSA generally refuse to take charge of these cases, telling local police to handle it in state or municipal court,” his press release said. “That is also our experience at Mitchell International Airport. Clarke was also disappointed that there was no air marshal on board who could have intervened.”