Sheriff David Clarke Jr., the well-known “law-and-order” sheriff who tells it like it is, tackled an unruly drunk passenger mid-flight on Saturday, Sept. 24, holding him down until the plane landed.
Clarke was on a two-hour flight to Charlotte, N.C. from Milwaukee when he noticed that Preston Bluntson, 36, of Milwaukee, was heavily-intoxicated and acting abusively towards the other passengers and flight crew, being loud, profane and harassing in his conduct.
According to a statement the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office released, Clarke told Bluntson to “chill out” when he began to argue with a flight attendant. One of the passengers, Clarke’s statement read, nervously told him that they were glad he was on the flight.
Clarke directed the flight attendant to radio airport police to be on standby for when the plane would arrive but Bluntson continued to be disruptive during the flight and even shouted several times that Clarke was on the plane. As the plane was landing, Bluntson began to taunt Clarke, asking him what he was “going to do about it,” and tried to get up.
After failing to hede Clarke’s order to sit down, Clarke shoved Bluntson face down and pinned him against the seat until the plane arrived at the gate. Clarke, his statement read, kept a vigilant eye on the rest of cabin, worried that Bluntson was just a distraction for something else.
Once police were able to board the flight, Clarke took handcuffs from an officer and proceeded to pull Blunston’s arms behind his back and handcuff him personally. Bluntson shouted at police as they escorted him off the plane.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Charlotte Mecklenberg Police Department arrested and booked Bluntson– who was from Milwaukee– around 7:10p.m. Bluntson was charged for intoxication and disruption.
The newspaper also reported that Bluntson “berated” Clarke the entire flight, but in an
e-mail to Wisconsin’s Watchdog Sunday, Clarke debunked that statement.
“It wasn’t toward me,” Clarke’s e-mail said. “He was harassing other passengers and flight crew the entire two hour flight. If it had been directed at me, I would have kicked his ass.”
“Question I have is, why no air marshal on that flight? That program is a joke,” Clarke said to the Wisconsin Watchdog Sunday. “Very few marshals ride planes. Not good.”
Clarke also believes that incidents like the one he handled should be charged as federal statute violations but, according to the statement, his opinion is not meant to criticize the airport police.
Read his full statement below: