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Morehouse Professor Helps Detain Delta Flight Passenger Dealing With Mental Health Crisis

Morehouse Professor Helps Detain Delta Flight Passenger Dealing With Mental Health Crisis

A good samaritan!

A Morehouse professor helped detain a Delta flight passenger dealing with a mental health crisis, Blavity reports.

Over the weekend, a flight to Atlanta had to make an emergency landing in Oklahoma City due to a situation with an unruly passenger. Rashaun Williams, a Morehouse College alum and current Morehouse professor, first noticed the man’s strange behavior before the altercation. 

“He was exhibiting some weird behavior and asked me a bunch of personal questions: ‘What’s your name? What do you do? Where do you live in Atlanta? Can I get your phone number? Do you have a business card’,” Williams recalled.

That’s when the man started writing a note, getting up to walk to the rear of the plane and back to the front before commandeering the flight’s PA system. 

“The perpetrator was on the intercom and was telling people to get back to their seat because oxygen mask[s] were going to be required of them,” passenger Benjamin Curlee told reporters.

The messages were alarming, causing quite a stir among other passengers who were becoming afraid. That’s when the captain urged strong men to come to the front of the plan to resolve the issue and help subdue the passenger.

“We’d like all strong males to the front of the aircraft to handle a problem passenger,” the captain can be heard saying in the now-viral video. 

Williams can then be seen trying to detain the man with the help of other passengers, admitting that his fight or flight response just kicked in.

“I’m not weighing the pros and cons. I’m not thinking about everyone around me. I’m thinking this guy is having a meltdown in the middle of the sky with all these people on it...and we need to restrain him,'" Williams said. 

Once they could get the passenger to the ground, he calmed down soon after, Williams believed he had a mental health episode. 

“As soon as I stood up, he’s coming right toward me, facing me. I immediately jump, grabbed his shoulders, pulled his hood over his head, pull him to the ground. Now, I’m holding him on the ground, and he’s kicking; someone’s grabbing his feet. At first, he’s screaming and screaming when everyone’s taking him down...And then he’s apologizing after he’s done realizing what’s going on...he had no control over himself,” Williams said. 

After the plane’s emergency landing, investigators revealed that the man was an off-duty flight attendant. And the note he was writing accused Williams of making terroristic threats, a claim law enforcement was quickly able to debunk.

Williams said he’s happy that they could intervene and de-escalate the situation and believed everyone should lead with compassion in similar situations.

“I just think he was having a mental health breakdown. It’s up to us as citizens to invest in our own mental health, to be compassionate with people, and to learn how to diffuse situations with people without it becoming dangerous,” he said.

Thank you for your service, Professor Williams! Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of Watch The Yard