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Police: Pilot beaten in fracas with passengers

Passengers on the San Francisco-bound flight stepped in when two brothers began assaulting American Airlines crew. TODAY.com's Dara Brown reports.

NBC News and wire services

An American Airlines pilot was beaten Wednesday night as he tried to escort two belligerent brothers, Jonathan and Luis Baez, off a flight from Miami to San Francisco.

According to the arrest report obtained by NBC News, the altercation began when the flight was taxiing on the runway and a flight attendant noticed that 27-year-old Jonathan Baez was asleep and not wearing a seat belt. The attendant attempted to wake him up, but he was unresponsive and appeared to be intoxicated or medicated.

The pilot was alerted of the situation and turned the plane around, heading back to the gate. Baez finally awoke and was told that he would not be permitted to continue on the overnight flight given his condition.

"As we always do with these things, we'd much rather deal with it on the ground than in the air," American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said Thursday.

"He was apparently barely compliant at that point," Smith said. "He was exhibiting symptoms of intoxication. He was not walking well when he went up the aisle."

As Jonathan was being escorted from the plane by the flight attendant and pilot, his 29-year-old brother Luis, who was also on the flight, decided to disembark as well. Luis then threatened the pilot, reportedly saying, "When you fly to San Juan, I will have you killed." The brothers are from Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.

The pilot stayed behind as both men were escorted off the plane, but Jonathan returned, striking the pilot in the face with his fist. Another flight attendant tried to intervene, but was hit in the shoulder. Then, both men began beating the pilot with their fists, striking his chest and chasing him into the terminal where they continued to assault him.

The men were eventually detained by flight crew members and some passengers on the flight.

"There was a scuffle that took place, so about three or four of us went out there and tackled the guys. There were two of them and I guess the pilot ended up with some contusions on his face. So we just did what we needed to do to help out," Ken Venting of Scotts Valley, California, told KGO-TV in San Francisco.

The pilot sustained facial bruising and lacerations as well as blurred vision to his left eye. He was replaced and the flight left at 11:30 p.m., about two hours after its originally scheduled departure time.

Jonathan Baez was held Thursday on $9,000 bond on charges of battery and aggravated battery. Luis Baez was held on $12,500 bond on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

Miami-Dade County jail records did not show if either brother was represented by an attorney.

"I think it's fair to say that both these gentlemen won't be flying with us again," Smith said.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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