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Las Vegas man recounts American Airlines passenger punching him in the face

Jane Coats (LVMPD/KSNV)

An American Airlines flight from Chicago to Las Vegas turned violent after passengers say a woman started punching anyone in her way. Officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department say the 54-year-old woman even punched one of their own.

The first man who was punched in the face spoke with News 3.

Ryan Flanigan says he was punched by the woman.

"She goes, 'Oh, I'm in the middle row seat! Great!' Oh good, she'll be a fun one to sit next to for four hours,” recalled Flanigan.

RELATED | LVMPD: Woman assaults officer while being escorted off an American Airlines flight

It's the first thought that ran through Flanigan's mind when he saw 54-year-old Jane Coats board his American Airlines flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Coats sat right next to him.

"She curls up like this, so I immediately, I'm thinking she took a Xanax or she's drunk. Something is not right with her,” said Flanigan.

Flanigan says his seating arrangement eventually got worse when their Las Vegas-bound flight got stuck on the tarmac due to bad weather and air traffic.

"The longer we are on the tarmac she starts getting louder and belligerent and saying curse words, he recalled.

Flanigan says he couldn't take it anymore.

"Everyone is kind of like this so after another five minutes or so, I finally turn over and say be quiet,” said Flanigan.

From that point, the situation escalated.

"She says so I'm gonna get up and if I don't? ‘I'm gonna smack you.’ So, I jokingly say go ahead, and poof,” said Flanigan. “It didn't hurt. It was a knuckle graze on my face.”

Flanigan says Coats then started hitting other passengers. Once flight attendants approached her, she punched them too.

"Whether it's this or punch in the face, knock me unconscious, this is assault,” said Flanigan.

According to Flanigan, American Airlines workers restrained Coats once the plane was in flight using zip ties.

After the flight landed in Las Vegas, LVMPD officers were at the gate and ready to meet up with the 54-year-old woman.

"We began to move those restraints and the woman was very violent,” said LVMPD Officer Larry Hadfield. “Very abusive towards our officers and during the course of taking her into custody, she struck one of our officers."

Flanigan commends American Airlines for their actions.

"A lot of times in those situations, airline crews get a bad rap,” said Flanigan. “I just feel like it's good to mention when they do things right and do things by the book."

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