Brawl breaks out on Spirit Airlines flight after passengers refuse to wear masks

One woman was tasered by police

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 28 October 2020 11:14 GMT
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Fight breaks out on Spirit Airlines flight

A brawl broke out on a Spirit Airlines flight, which culminated in passengers throwing punches at one another and a woman being tasered by police.

Video shared on social media shows the moment the woman leaps over an aircraft seat to hit another man who yanks on her hair, while cabin crew struggle to hold them back.

The incident occurred on a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 26 October, although passengers have given conflicting accounts as to what started the fight.

The man who filmed the encounter, Carlos Paredes, told CBS reporter David Begnaud that the fight broke out because “the woman refused to follow the airlines protocol to wear a mask”.

Puerto Rico police also said that the woman in the video, identified as passenger Nyasy Veronique Payne, “provoked an incident by acting in what witnesses called an aggressive, hostile, and defiant behaviour.”

She was accused of hitting 28-year-old Javier Lopez Cruz.

However, another passenger on board disputes the story, saying the violence was initiated by a male passenger.

The eyewitness, identified as Alfredo, told Begnaud that the man threw the first punch after spending the entire flight moving seats, even when the seatbelt sign was on, and failing to wear a face covering.

Alfredo alleged that three men started to shout racial and homophobic slurs at three women as the plane came into land, before one of them hit the female passenger featured in the video.

Despite the traveller’s account, it was the woman who was arrested and spent the night in jail.

The Independent has contacted Spirit Airlines for comment.

It’s far from the first altercation sparked by a plane passenger not wearing a mask.

An easyJet passenger was allegedly slapped by his wife after delivering an anti-mask tirade onboard a recent flight.

The unnamed man was filmed shouting at fellow travellers, telling them to “fight back” and saying: “I'm serious, get them off, get them off.”

“I tell you what, God help you, the longer you wear those masks, God help you,” he says in a video shared online.

He is heard shouting at a woman, who is reportedly his wife, “Shut up you f***ing imbecile”, before she allegedly slapped him, according to another passenger who witnessed the incident.

EasyJet has confirmed that police met the aircraft on arrival in Tenerife after a passenger became disruptive and refused to wear a mask.

“In line with new guidelines, all passengers are currently required to bring their own face mask for their flight which must be worn during boarding and onboard,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

“EasyJet’s cabin crew are trained to assess and evaluate all situations and to act quickly and appropriately to ensure that the safety of the flight and other passengers is not compromised at any time.

“Whilst such incidents are rare, we take them very seriously, and do not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour on board.”

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