CLEVELAND – A college student who forced a pilot to make an emergency landing on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Germany shoved a flight attendant and had to be restrained on the floor of the airplane, according to an affidavit unsealed Wednesday in federal court.
Ali Alramakh of Akron approached a flight attendant in a "belligerent, confrontational" manner after crew members had to force their way inside the lavatory on Friday, according to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Alramakh, 21, had locked himself inside the bathroom immediately after takeoff with an electronic device and had ignored flight attendants who asked him to return to his seat.
"Alramakh was speaking in a loud tone of voice, using profanity, with his face inches from the flight attendant's face," the affidavit said. "The flight attendant asked Alramakh to step back multiple times, but instead Alramakh shoved the flight attendant backwards against the aircraft."
A passenger then intervened by grabbing Alramakh and helping the flight crew restrain him. The pilot decided to land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport because of the disturbance. When authorities boarded the aircraft in Cleveland, they found Alramakh restrained on the floor of the airplane near the lavatory.
The complaint says Alramakh refused to comply with instructions to stop resisting and tried to spit on flight attendants and passengers. He was arrested and removed from the plane, which took off shortly afterward for Frankfurt, Germany.
The affidavit was signed by Clayton Haynes, a federal air marshal who investigated the disturbance and interviewed flight crew and passengers. Earlier in the flight, while the plane was taxiing off the runway, Alramakh entered the bathroom and used an electronic device and refused to respond to flight attendants who asked him to return to his seat and turn off the device, the complaint said.
"Alramakh became verbally abusive with the flight attendants before returning to his seat," according to the complaint.
He eventually returned to his seat but went back to the bathroom right after takeoff, the complaint said.
Alramakh pleaded not guilty Tuesday to several counts of aggravated menacing in Cleveland Municipal Court and has another hearing Thursday.
Public defender Carolyn Kucharski said she hasn't seen the government's evidence and called the defendant a well-liked University of Akron scholarship student.
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