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The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

An unruly passenger threatened to ‘put on a show’ in the Orlando airport. He was charged with battery.

Cellphone video shows police using a Taser on a man who allegedly attacked his wife, his daughter and an airport employee

(iStock/Washington Post illustration)
4 min

A 34-year-old New York man who said he had been drinking got into physical altercations with his wife, his 6-year-old daughter and an employee at Orlando International Airport last week, leading to an arrest on battery charges by police who shot him with a Taser, according to an arrest report.

Fellow passengers watched and shot video Thursday as Ryan Austin Martin launched into a chaotic meltdown in which he banged on a jet-bridge door, shouted threats and was restrained by a police officer and a traveler who happened to be an off-duty sheriff from New Jersey.

“Listen man, I just had too much to drink,” he said once he was on the ground. It was not yet noon when police arrived, according to the arrest report.

The Federal Aviation Administration and flight attendants have pointed to preflight alcohol consumption in airports as one of the factors behind a pandemic-era rise in unruly and violent passenger behavior. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson asked airports last year to help curb the sale of alcoholic drinks that passengers can carry with them to the gate or on board.

FAA asks airports for help with unruly passengers, calls for avoiding ‘to-go’ alcohol sales

According to an arrest affidavit, the incident in Orlando began when Martin grew agitated at his wife and cursed at her. The redacted report described him pushing his daughter, trying to pull the neck of someone in his group and grabbing someone by the hair. During that time, he left twice and returned with drinks, the report says.

After the family arrived at Gate 46, where their United Airlines flight to Newark was scheduled to take off, someone sought help at the desk. A gate supervisor moved the group to the jet bridge to separate them from Martin, the report says.

A fellow passenger’s cellphone video, later posted to YouTube, begins around this point. In the footage, a seething Martin — described by police as 6 feet tall and 280 pounds — warns people not to touch him as an airport alarm blares. The video, which lasts over eight minutes, contains a significant amount of profanity.

“You want to see a show?” he asks a group of people awaiting flights, some with their phones trained on him. “I’m gonna [expletive] put on a show.” He leans on the door blocking him from his family, bangs and punches it, and threatens an unidentified person by warning them they would “end up dead” if they came near him.

At one point, he was able to open the door and get onto the bridge to reach his family. The gate supervisor told police he shoved her twice as she tried to protect the family.

About four minutes into the video, employees ushered two women and three kids off the jet bridge into the airport. The arrest affidavit said Officer Jeriel Gomes saw Martin walk off the bridge with his hands up, but after the suspect pulled his arms away and turned to face Gomes, the officer used his Taser. Martin continued standing despite being struck twice as Gomes yelled for him to get on the ground.

The ‘no-fly’ list and unruly passengers, explained

When Martin turned his back and seemed to lean forward, Gomes pushed him down and used the Taser again when the suspect refused to put his hands behind his back. The off-duty sheriff helped handcuff the man.

United Airlines has banned Martin from flying on the airline while officials review the situation.

Martin, who lives in Yonkers, was arrested on one count each of child abuse, battery involving domestic violence, battery, resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly intoxication. He was booked at the Orange County Jail and released Friday night on a $2,950 surety bond, according to the county’s corrections department.

It was not clear when he is due back in court. Records show he was ordered not to have contact with the victims named in the report. Neither Martin nor his public defender could be reached immediately for comment Tuesday.

As the video of the incident ended and Martin was rolled away in a chair, some passengers could be heard singing “Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye.”