Washington Man Faces Federal Charge for Disturbance on Flight
The FBI charged Douglas B. Smyser, age 21, with interfering with a flight crew for alleged disturbing behavior aboard Compass Air flight 6054 on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Smyser, a Bonney Lake, Washington man, boarded the flight at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The flight, bound for Los Angeles, diverted to Portland International Airport when the crew became concerned about Smyser’s actions. The plane landed at 7:51 p.m. in Portland, and both Port of Portland Police officers and the FBI responded.
According to the federal criminal complaint filed in this case late Thursday, witnesses and crew report there were multiple incidents that occurred between the time the plane left the gate in Seattle and when it landed in Portland. About 20 – 30 minutes into the flight, the captain said the crew became concerned that Smyser would rush the cockpit, and he made the determination at that time to divert to Portland.
Specifically, witnesses and crew reported incidents involved Smyser throwing his backpack in the aisle and claiming it wasn’t his; his refusal to stay in his seat; and his pacing the aisle with several attempts to move towards the front of the plane. A crew member also said that Smyser told her at one point that “someone has a gun in the back row of this plane.” As the plane was approaching Portland for landing, a passenger helped return Smyser to his seat and used his body weight to physically block Smyser from leaving his seat until Port officers took him into custody.
On Wednesday night, Port officers charged Smyser with two state crimes: menacing and disorderly conduct 2. On Thursday, February 14, 2019, the FBI filed the federal criminal complaint charging him with interference with a flight crew. Smyser is expected to make his initial appearance before a federal magistrate at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, February 15, 2019, at the U.S. District Courthouse in Portland.
A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and all defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.