A wild brawl broke out at Miami International Airport, where an officer pulled out his gun in front of screaming passengers in a packed terminal, video shows.
Responding officers then found an “unruly passenger” who had taken the keys of an airport transport cart and refused to let a worker leave the area, police told the station.
The footage shows one officer with his arm around a man’s neck as several people scuffle and dozens of passengers look on, some with their phones out to record the unfolding skirmish.
The man being subdued by the officer then breaks free and continues to attack the cop, who proceeds to back up and brandish his weapon as shocked travelers watch the escalating disturbance.
“Oh s–t, oh s–t,” one man says on the footage, which ends as travelers surround the cop as he tried to restore order.
Two people were in custody following the brawl, Miami-Dade police told NBC Miami. It’s unclear what charges they face, WSVN reported. The circumstances leading up to the officer pulling out his weapon are also under investigation, Miami-Dade police said.
The president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, meanwhile, said the officer responded properly.
“He breaks off and it’s getting out of hand, so he draws his weapon,” union boss Steadman Stahl told the Miami Herald. “He stops the crowd and he re-holsters. He did nothing wrong and exactly what he is trained to do.”
The upset passengers had been stranded for hours while waiting for an Air Century flight to the Dominican Republic to depart. The flight has been rescheduled for Friday, the Herald reported.
The heated clash occurred as the holiday travel season is ramping up — with an estimated 165,000 daily passengers expected at Miami International Airport this week, WPLG reported.
“An unruly passenger on a flight to Santo Domingo was upset about something,” traveler Mike Majlak, who shot the intense footage, told the station. “I wasn’t sure if it was his class of travel, his check bag fees, a delay, something.”
No one was hurt during the frightening brawl, WPLG reported.
Airport officials denounced the incident as “bad behavior” by passengers amid record-high traffic this winter.
“Unfortunately, that passenger growth has come with a record-high increase nationwide in bad behavior as well, such as the incident this evening at MIA,” said the airport’s director and CEO, Ralph Cutié.
Unruly travelers face arrest, fines up to $37,000 and bans from airlines, as well as potential federal charges, Cutié said.
“Please travel responsibly by getting to the airport extra early, being patient, complying with the federal mask law and airport staff, limiting your alcohol consumption and notifying police at the first sign of bad behavior by calling 911,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced last month it referred 37 cases involving unruly passengers to the FBI since January as disturbances at airports and on planes have soared amid the pandemic.
Airlines have reported more than 5,000 instances of disruptive passengers this year, including 3,600 regarding federally mandated face masks. Those complaints led to 950 FAA investigations, the most since the agency started keeping records in 1995.