T Nation

Air Marshall Shoots Passenger



Did you guys see this?

Apparently a passenger was running off the plane like a crazy person, because he was a crazy person, and the Marshall shot him in the jetway after he exitted the aircraft. He was claiming that he had a bomb is his carry-on bag and reached into it. The whole time his wife was yelling that he had a mental disorder and wasn't taking his meds..


How unfortunate. Of course we do not know the complete details, standard procedure, and protocols of the marshalls so we can only speculate.

That being said, I see no wrong on the marshalls part. Extreme, yes, and maybe he could of used an escalating amount of force. Some may say since the man was off the plane, there was no life threat.

To say it is extreme, well good for the marhsalls. This is a prime example, and reinforces the message 'Don't f--- around at the airport.' It proves that they are there to protect, and capable of doing so if needed. If a bomb was found, this marshall would be a hero.

To argue that the man was no threat after he exited the plane is a moot point. A plane can be blown up from both the inside and outside. He was still a threat in that regard.

I have to wonder what a mentally ill man is doing on a plane without taking his medication. I am quite stable (I hope), have jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, and I still experience anxiety when I fly. This man and his wife were aware of his condition and should have taken precautions.

Maybe the marshall was trigger happy and really screwed the pooch on this one. Maybe he was just doing his job to the best of his ability.

I do not support or cheer for the death of an innocent man. I just feel the need to side by the marshall, a man like myself who is sworn to protect. It will be easy for some to bash him, but unless you have been in a situation that requires split second life or death decisions, think twice before blaming the marshall.


From what Ive read, I dont blame him. Don't fuckin joke about bombs, not in 2005. If the dude was mentally ill maybe he needs to be put on a bus not a plane. Fuck him, I hope he serves as a good example not to screw around on a plane.


I'm not blaming anybody. It would be foolish to do so with so little information. It does suck though, that the very first shooting by a Sky Marshall has to be surrounded by these circumstances.

A clear cut threat, or a bomb after the fact would've been nice.

It would also suck to have your shit blown up by the bomb squad just because they were unable to tell if your bag had a bomb in it. Shouldn't they be checking these bags beforehand? Hopefully it doesn't take a bomb-threatening lunatic to initiate a baggage check at our airports, not in 2005.


If you threaten lethal force then lethal force is justified in being used against you and the other guy may just be better at applying it.

I don't know if he was a nut or not but it's a moot point. If he blows up ,his mental capacity really doesn't matter. I think a lot of these suicide bombers have a screw loose.


That may be true on the field of war, but among the civilian population it simply isn't.

If somebody tells a cop that he's "going to blow his brains out" but doesn't have a weapon, the cop doesn't get to shoot him just because he made a threat of lethal force. There actually has to be some sort of evidence that he can imminently carry out that threat.
That may be the case here, but your point is still incorrect.


Everytime I hear about someone going crazy on a plain, it turns about to be some dickhead who hasn't taken his medication.

Take your fucking meds, people!!

You can't blame the marshall. I would be very worried if he didn't shoot the guy.


Well, I didnt read the article, but I'm basing what I say off of what I've read on the replies...

I think shooting the damn guy was a bit extreme, even though he said he had a bomb. Although this guy (mental problems or not) should not have been joking about having a bomb on the plane.

Why the hell wasnt this guy taking his medecine? If I had to go on a plane with anyone who had mental problems I'd make sure he got AT LEAST his normal dosage of medecine.

Either way, a bomb on the plane or a bomb in the airport is very bad... I guess you could argue that in the defense of the air marshall.


But if someone tells a cop that he is going to kill other people, and acts as if he is reaching for a weapon, then it becomes a lethal force call for the cop. Especially in the age of suicide bombers. It is a tough place to be in, and it is a shoot or no shoot call that has to be made in a split second. I hope it turns out to be a good shoot, but I don't think it will. Part of being in this type of job is taking responsiblity and facing the consequences if you make the wrong call, the Air Marshall knew he was going to take a life when he pulled the trigger, and if he was wrong then he knew he would be punished, it goes with the job.
This case seems like suicide by cop, where people force law enforcement officers into a deadly force situation in order to end thier own lives. It happens every once in while. It sucks for the bullet reciever, it sucks for the officer, and it sucks all around.
I feel sorry for the guy's family, especially if his wife had to watch him get plugged, I feel sorry for the Air Marshall because this kind of stuff haunts you, and I feel sorry for the T-Nation forum because once the more politically inclined posters get involved, this thread is going to blow up.


Shoot. I hope not. So far it doesn't look like anything other than an acknowledgement that the guy was probably in a no-choice situation.

He can't risk the guy actually having a bomb and killing people with it.


After reading the article, I don't think anyone can blame the Marshall.

After the guy said he had a bomb and the guy ran off, the Marshall warned him to get down on the ground, the guy didn't get down and may have looked like he was reaching into the bag that he said had a bomb in it.

It may have turned out unfortunate if there really was no threat, but I don't want an air Marshall to take that chance.

I also found this interesting about the article:
"After the shooting, investigators spread passengers' bags on the tarmac and let dogs sniff them for explosives, and bomb squad members blew up at least two bags."

It sounds like the dogs sniffed out some sort of explosive or residue on at least 2 of the passenger's bags.

Maybe the guy grabbed the wrong bag and really did bring explosives with him.


Not true, if someone tells me they are going to "blow my brains out" I can escalate my levels of force to subdue and apprehend him. If he makes said claim and reaches into a pocket or his belt line he is probably gonna catch quite a few hollow point rounds in the chest. As for the incident, just because someone is shouting "my husband" and "he is mentally ill" doesn't mean its not a cover for a terrorist attack. As I suspect these Air Marshalls will be run through the grinder.


What do you mean, not true? In your town, if somebody threatens you, you can shoot them? No wonder they make you wait so long for your gun permit. Of course a shooting is justified if somebody's life is in danger, but not necessarily because somebody threatens it. There is a difference.

As far as being run through the grinder goes; maybe the shooting was legit and justified, but since there wasn't an ACTUAL threat he should be put through the "grinder" to determine that, because at the end of the day an unarmed man was killed. Or, do you think that him simply stating he percieved a threat is good enough? Don't police shootings in your jurisdiction get investigated?


This event totally sucks. The family of the person in question is distraut as well as the air marshall im sure. But these marshalls don't go into their jobs just happy that they might get the chance to kill somebody that day. They have a job to do; protect americans from 9/11 happening again and i'm glad that they are doing that.

In Israel, they also have similar measures where they will shoot you if you make similar threats and act like you are about to blow something up.

If you climb the fence at the whitehouse with something that even looks like a gun they will probably shoot you, if they don't theywill shoot you for being stupid.

What's your alternative? Anything that you propose will lower the amount of protection given to average americans, and whether you feel that this lower level of protection is justified based on the chance that said individuals don't actually pose a serious threat , you may want to do this. But, we live in a democratic society and not only are you the only one against this but im sure that the rest of america doesn't agree with you either. If they did we would have some big changes but i don't see that happening anytime soon.


I completely agree with vroom on this. It's a tragic situation all the way around, but if you have someone claiming to have a bomb, and he reaches into his bag and refuses to get down when ordered to do so, they have to shoot him. It's a different calculus than if he claimed to have a gun -- then they could have shot him in the leg or something -- but because he claimed to have a bomb they had to shoot to take him out.

And, unfortunately, his wife screaming about his medication doesn't change the situation. How many incidents of terrorism around the world are preceded by deception of intent? I don't think it's a stretch to say all, or at least close to all.


You don't seem to know the other posters very well at all. That doesn't surprise me, however. As Jon Stewart said, "You can be drunk on a plane, you can be crazy on a plane...but you can't be both". I hate flying as it is. Anyone screaming they have a bomb in top of that needs to be taken out.


In this situation the air marshalls perceived a real threat. Waiting to see if the guy was reaching for a bomb or detonation device could have cost numerous lives. 2 years ago a depressed 18 year old kid came toward our duty officer and reached into his belt line, the captain quickly pulled his weapon and shot the kid 3 times. This 18 year old had no gun, what you don't seem to understand is that police officers don't have to wait to see a gun.

All I have to do is convince IA that in the given situation my life and the life of people around me was in danger and he was reaching for a weapon(ie bomb or gun).

Why don't you run a little test AZ, accost a police officer on the street, tell him "I'm goiong to kill you" then reach in to your belt line. In this state we don't have to wait to be shot to shoot and once shot at we are not required to retreat.


I hate to agree with the conservatives here, but if someone is running around on a PLANE and making threats, I would like to see someone shoot him down.

However, I would like to see more non-lethal weapons being used as well.

This is a tragic situtation, and the only person I can blame is the wife who did not force her husband to take her meds before boarding on a plane.


The fault is with his wife. If she know he was off his lithium, she shouldn't have had him on the plane.


Pretty much correct. The actual standard in my state is as follows:

"...the use of deadly force by a peace officer in the line of duty is justified only when necessary:

1) To protect the peace officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm;
2) To effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person whom the peace officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force; or
3) To effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person whom the officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm if the person's apprehension is delayed."

While every state is different, and thed feds may have a different standard, most are fairly close.

It's important to note that peace officers make decisions in the moment, and can't always wait for what is legally considered evidence. Decisions have to be made based on the available information at the time.

In my opinion, if the man said he had a bomb, refused to stop when ordered to while guns were pointed at him, and began reaching into his bag, deadly force was justified, based on the standard above.

Maybe someone can post the fed's deadly force statute/policy?