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Case of passenger accused of wreaking havoc on transatlantic plane ends up in Brooklyn Federal Court

Chain of incidents began with refusal to wear mask, feds say

January 23, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The case of an airline passenger who is accused of disrupting a Delta Airlines flight from Ireland to JFK Airport, to the extent of throwing a can at a passenger, dropping his pants and “mooning” a flight attendant, kicking the back of a passenger in front of him and more, was unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Friday.

The defendant, Shane McInerney, made his first appearance in Brooklyn’s federal courthouse on Jan. 14, before U.S. District Judge Vera Scanlon, EDNY, and he is charged with intentionally assaulting and intimidating a member of the flight crew. He is being defended by Benjamin Zev Yaster of Brooklyn Federal Defenders. 

According to a statement signed by FBI special agent Mark Palagiano and sworn before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann, EDNY, on Feb. 8, the incident happened “on or about” Jan 7, 2022, when McInerney, a resident of Galway, Ireland, was a passenger on Delta Flight 45.

The chain of disruptive incidents began, according to Palagiano, when McInerney repeatedly refused to wear a face mask in line with current COVID-related in-flight regulations.

“At one point,” Palagiano’s affidavit and complaint says, “the defendant threw an empty beverage can, which hit the head of Individual 1, who was a passenger on the above-referenced flight. At another point, the defendant kicked the back of the passenger seat in front of him, disturbing Individual 2, another passenger.”

Shane McInerney appeared before U.S. District Judge Vera Scanlon, EDNY, seen here. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Then, the complaint continues, the defendant walked into the First Class section of the airplane, complaining about the food to “Individual 3,” a flight attended. As he was being escorted back to his seat in Economy Class, he allegedly pulled down his pants and underwear and exposed his buttocks to the attendant and passengers sitting nearby. 

Finally, according to the complaint, when the plane was approaching JFK and passengers were asked to buckle their seat belts, he left his seat, entered the aisle and refused to back down.

Previously, about two hours into the flight, the affidavit and complaint says, “The flight captain was on his break and spoke with the defendant. During the conversation, the defendant twice took off his cap, put it on [the captain’s] head,” then removed the cap. 

Some of the airline staff found McInerney’s behavior so disruptive, Palagiano said, that they considered diverting the plane to another airport to remove McInerney before the plane reached its destination.

At Brooklyn Federal Court, McInerney was released on a $20,000 bond, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

The Federal Aviation Administration has said that it recorded more than 6,000 incidents of unruly passengers in 2020, according to Yahoo News, although most were not serious enough to lead to criminal charges.

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