NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was kicked off of a plane before takeoff at Miami International Airport on Sunday morning for refusing to respond to the crew's request to put on his seatbelt and appeared to be unconscious, the Miami-Dade Police Department said. Beckham was flying to Los Angeles when the incident happened.
According to reports, after boarding, Beckham had started to pass in and out of consciousness and was refusing to fasten a seatbelt, the flight crew claimed. However, Beckham's attorney Daniel Davilier, has released a statement refuting the claims that his client was at fault for the hour-and-half delay that resulted from the confrontation.
Leaving Everyone Concerned
The flight crew was concerned about Beckham "as they tried to wake him to fasten his seat belt, he appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness" and officers were dispatched to the Los Angeles-bound American Airlines flight because there was a "medical emergency," according to a police statement to NFL Network.
According to the statement, the crew got concerned as they believed Beckham was "seriously ill" and that his condition would worsen during the flight.
Beckham "refused" to deplane when asked by the flight crew, and everyone else was compelled to get off the plane. Then, according to police, Beckham followed the officers' instructions to leave the aircraft "without incident."
Beckham, 30, wasn't detained or cited after the incident, NFL Network reported. However, the entire flight got delayed because of this. An American Airlines spokesperson confirmed that Flight 1228, bound for Los Angeles, returned to the gate before takeoff "due to a customer failing to follow crew members' instructions and refusing to fasten their seat belt."
Following the confrontation, Beckham posted on his own Twitter account, lamenting the fact that he had never experienced anything like this.
"Never in my life have I experienced what just happened to me... I've seen it alll.." he said.
Beckham's lawyer, however, has a completely different story, claiming that his client was actually dozing off and eventually buckled his seatbelt. "Odell Beckham Jr. boarded a morning flight in Miami without any problems," Davillier began in a lengthy statement to NFL Network.
"The flight was delayed after boarding and prior to take off. Mr. Beckham fell asleep with his blanket over his head, which is his normal practice for long flights. He was [awakened] and told that the plane was back at the gate and that he needed to get off the plane because he did not put his seatbelt on when asked. He responded that he was asleep, and that he would put his seatbelt on at that time. He was informed that it was too late, and that either he would have to get off the plane or everyone would have to deplane.
"The overzealous flight attendant insisted on removing everyone from the plane instead of simply allowing Mr. Beckham to fasten his seatbelt and proceed with the flight. At [no] time was Mr. Beckham disruptive or combative. He was willing to comply with the seatbelt requirement, but the flight attendant wanted to prove that he had the authority to have Mr. Beckham removed from the flight. The airline proceeded to send Mr. Beckham's luggage to Los Angeles without him.
"That incident was unnecessary. Sleeping on a plane should not be a cause for removal from a flight. If they could wake him up when the flight returned to the gate, then they could have done the same thing to ask him to put on his seatbelt."
There are two versions of the story. While the crew kept insisting that Beckham was unwell and they were concerned that led them to call for "medical help", the NFL star and his attorney kept denying the claims.
A passenger who claimed to be on the plane with Beckham posted in a Twitter thread that the aircraft was taxiing down the runway when an issue forced it to turn around and return to the gate. After 20 minutes, it was announced that everyone had to disembark the aircraft with their luggage. Police had boarded the aircraft.
Beckham kept posting a series of tweets.
In a third tweet, he posted "Never. In. My. Life' and 'I COULD NEVER MAKE THIS UP."
Also, a video of Beckham seemingly being escorted by police to the airport's ticketing area in Miami has surfaced. The person who filmed Beckham being led through the airport replied to another tweet of Beckham's, which read "comedy hour."
"Forcing us off the plane because you were unresponsive and unruly is not comedy to the hundreds of folks trying to get home dude," read the passenger's tweet. "Not cool man."
The incident comes as Beckham is finalizing plans to visit with NFL teams after missing much of the year while recovering from an ACL tear. He will visit with the Bills in addition to the Giants, Cowboys, and Giants on Thursday and Dec. 5, respectively. The Giants will meet on Thursday as planned after being informed of the circumstance.