Officers arrest man at King Airport after he refused captain's request to disembark plane


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ST. THOMAS - V.I. Port Authority officers arrested a man on a grounded airplane after he was spotted taking pictures of another passenger being treated for a medical emergency on the tarmac.

Police arrested Yacoub Hassaneen, 39, about 1:35 p.m. Tuesday after the captain of American Airlines flight 1047 destined for New York requested that Hassaneen be escorted off the plane.

Hassaneen, who owns a market on St. John and is in the process of opening another on St. Thomas, was taking the flight as his connection to his final destination of Jordan, according to Hassaneen's defense attorney, Robert Eberhart.

Hassaneen originally is from Jordan and was supposed to visit his father, who is 86 years old and ill, Eberhart said.

The arresting officer, Paula Duke, said that Hassaneen's arrest was unrelated to the photos he took of the passenger who was being treated for a medical emergency on the tarmac. Court documents disclosed no information about the patient.

Hassaneen's arrest instead was related to his refusal to get off of the plane after the plane's captain requested Hassaneen be escorted off, according to Duke.

Police charged Hassaneen with delaying or obstructing an officer while performing his or her duty, a local charge, Duke said.

When asked why the captain asked Hassaneen be taken off of the plane, Duke said that she did not know. She also said that she "could not recall" whether she had seen Hassaneen create any kind of disturbance on the plane prior to his arrest.

Duke said that her role in the incident began when she was dispatched to King Airport on St. Thomas because an airplane passenger was having a medical emergency.

During the emergency, a family member of the passenger spotted Hassaneen taking pictures of the scene with his iPhone.

"I explained to Mr. Hassaneen that the family was disturbed," Duke said. Thereafter, she asked Hassaneen to delete the photos and videos Hassaneen had taken.

Hassaneen complied with Duke's request and deleted both the photos and videos that he had taken of the incident, according to court documents.

Afterward, passengers reboarded the airplane, and the captain requested that Hassaneen get off the plane, Duke said.

An American Airlines supervisor, Donata Samuel, approached Hassaneen and asked him to follow her off of the plane, Duke said.

Hassaneen proceeded to the door of the plane, where he then refused to go past, Duke said. Duke told him three times that he needed to get off of the plane or she would arrest him.

"He shouted, 'Arrest me,' " Duke said.

Duke arrested Hassaneen, who posted bail and appeared in court Wednesday. Hassaneen rescheduled his flight Tuesday to Wednesday and was expected to leave after his court appearance.

His bail, which he posted prior to his appearance in V.I. Superior Court, was set at $500.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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