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One of the many stresses of flying is that you don’t know if you’ll be seated beside a normal person, a talker, or maybe some creep masturbating on a Southwest flight.
We hate to refer to this airline incident as non-consensual footsie, but we’re at a loss as to what else to call this creepy assault.
After a man started rubbing his feet upon his neighbor’s and refused to stop, things escalated — and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing.
Justin Brafford is a 29-year-old man from Texas.
He is now facing charges for simple assault and for intimidating a flight crew on his Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Dallas.
This began with, as we mentioned, non-consensual footsie as he allegedly rubbed his feet against those of the woman beside him.
Unfortunately, this peak horror scenario was only the beginning of the nightmare that forced a Southwest flight to make an emergency landing.
Not satisfied by merely using his feet to make her life a living hell, he also began verbal harassment.
It sounds like she tried to weather this assault — and let’s be clear, rubbing your foot against someone without their permission is assault.
But when he allegedly warned her “don’t f–k with me,” she was able to persuade a flight attendant to allow her to change seats.
That should have been the end of her story of the worst flight of her life, right?
Well, Brafford then got up and confronted her at her new seat, apparently offended that he didn’t appreciate his unwanted attention.
Flight attendants tried to intervene and persuade him to return to his seat.
They were unsuccessful.
Brafford is said to have then launched into an expletive-laden rant aimed primarily at the woman who had fled from his assault.
Apparently whatever he was saying was not only foul, but alarming.
(And, to be fair, his erratic behavior — far beyond what you’d expect from a run-of-the-mill creep who thought he could exploit social norms to cop a feel — was also alarming)
The flight crew alerted the pilot, and the plane was forced to divert and make an emergency landing in Albuquerque.
Brafford was then escorted from the plane.
That whole incident sounds deeply harrowing and seems beyond explanation.
But police say that they know why it happened.
Authorities say that Brafford was high on methamphetamines.
We don’t mean that he was a little wired — reports say that he believed that he was hearing “calls” from God while on the illicit substances.
He had taken the methamphetamines the day before the flight, and he had apparently overdosed on heroin over the weekend.
If you’d planned on pairing that combo of drug experiences before boarding a flight, we’d advise against it.
Brafford is, of course, super in jail.
Our legal system may not make it easy for women to get justice when they are assaulted, but misbehavior on airplanes in a post-9/11 world does not go over well.
He could face as much as 20 years behind bars for his prolonged outburst.
He could also face a fine of as much as $ 250,000.
Messing with a flight crew is, after all, a federal offense.
We’re not normally in the business of feeling sorry for major, oligopolistic corporations. Or of airlines, for that matter.
But we kind of feel for Southwest here. It sounds to us like they responded in the best way possible, but their name is still all over this story.
Officials at Southwest have affirmed for the bajillionth time that their first priority is the safety and comfort of their passengers.
The flight was then able to continue to Dallas without incident.
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