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TSA agent arrested after allegedly throwing hot coffee at pilot

A security screener at John F. Kennedy International Airport was arrested recently after allegedly throwing a cup of hot coffee at an off-duty American Airlines pilot.

Pilot Steven Trivett, 54, was exiting the secure area of the terminal on March 28 around 5 a.m. when he told a Transportation Security Administration agent and her colleagues to tone down a profanity-laced conversation.

“He was walking though the screening area and overheard a conversation where he thought they were speaking unprofessionally,” Al Della Fave, press officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told msnbc.com.

Trivett reportedly told them that they should "conduct themselves more professionally in uniform and not use profanity or the n-word," the New York Post reported.

One screener apparently then told Trivett to mind his own business, and that's when he identified himself. He reportedly tried to grab the ID tags of screener Lateisha El, 30, and that's when she tossed a full cup of hot coffee on him, according to the Post.

TSA spokesman Greg Soule offered this explanation to msnbc.com:

"TSA holds our employees to the highest professional standards and has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior at airport checkpoints. TSA is looking into this incident and will take swift and appropriate action. The unacceptable behavior of a few individuals in no way reflects the dedication of our nearly 50,000 Transportation Security Officers who work tirelessly to keep our skies safe." 

But Della Fave told msnbc.com that El told authorities she spilled the coffee accidentally, while Trivett said he believed she threw it at him.

“He charged her with assault, she charged him with harassment,” Della Fave said.

Now it's up to the courts to decide. 

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