An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Jordan Nixon, Janessa Torres and Johara Zavala with assaulting an airline security officer in a jetway at John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK Airport”) on September 22, 2021. The defendants were arrested this morning and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Melinda Katz, Queens County District Attorney, announced the arrests and indictment.
“As alleged, the defendants viciously assaulted an airline security officer by beating him to the floor with his radio and then kicking and punching him in the face and body while he was down,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The extreme and aggressive behavior in connection with our air travel is out of control. This Office has zero tolerance for violent conduct that threatens the safety of airline passengers and employees and will prosecute defendants who allegedly engage in such conduct to the fullest extent of the law.” Mr. Peace also expressed his appreciation to the Port Authority Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
“The FBI is the lead federal agency in charge of arresting those who assault, intimidate, or threaten flight crew, or endanger the safety of other passengers,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll. “Anyone who thinks they can get away with this type of unruly behavior should be reminded that their actions are criminal and can result in time behind bars as a result of federal criminal charges. We are aggressively addressing this emerging threat and take all cases seriously.”
“The defendants allegedly attacked two airline employees, who were simply doing their jobs,” stated Queens District Attorney Katz. “The friendly skies must not turn into chaos and turmoil because some passengers refuse to abide by the rules. Our airport personnel must be safe in order to keep the flying public safe.”
As alleged in court filings, the defendants refused to leave a jetway at JFK Airport after they were informed that they would be denied boarding for a Delta Airlines scheduled flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The defendants were belligerent, with one appearing to be visibly disoriented and possibly intoxicated, and another who was refusing to properly wear her mask. The flight’s Gate Agent (“Employee 1”) notified the flight crew of the defendants’ belligerent conduct, and the captain of the flight and a member of the flight crew determined that the defendants should not be allowed to board the flight. The defendants refused the request of an airline security officer (“Employee 2”) to leave the jetway and approached him while yelling and cursing. One defendant struck Employee 2 repeatedly with his own radio, and he fell to the floor. When Employee 1 tried to assist Employee 2, one defendant punched Employee 1 in the face. All three defendants then punched and kicked Employee 2 in the face and body while Employee 2 was on the floor. Employees 1 and 2 were later treated at a hospital for their injuries.
The charges in the indictment are allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendants face up to 10 years in prison.