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How Creepy ‘Footsies’ Allegedly Caused Emergency Landing


Riding on an airplane exposes you to all sorts of people you’d never get the chance to meet otherwise. Sometimes you’d wish you’d never seen them. A federal complaint filed Wednesday describes passenger Justin Riley Brafford engaging in a slew of rather problematic behavior. He was charged with simple assault, and interference with a flight crew after his behavior allegedly resulted in an emergency landing.

According to the FBI, the defendant approached a woman already seated on a Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Dallas. He asked if he could sit between her and another female passenger, authorities said.  Things allegedly started badly enough, with his leaning toward her seat, with his arm over her armrest and onto her leg.

It didn’t get better! The woman told investigators that he started “playing footsies” with her to get her attention. He was described as “almost” kicking her. Brafford allegedly asked if he was bothering her, and she said yes, but he  kept kicking her anyway. The woman claimed this escalated to him pulling on her sweat, and asking “What did you say?”

He allegedly asked all sorts of invasive questions: the location of her home; if she was alone; her name. Then he asked her out, the woman said. She turned him down, but he allegedly whispered, “Don’t fuck with me.”

A flight attendant, who first thought Brafford and the woman were a couple because they were sitting so close, said the female passenger asked if she could move her seat because Brafford was making her uncomfortable, according to the complaint. She felt so unnerved by the man that she asked the attended to get her possessions from her original seat, according to authorities.

But this allegedly didn’t stop Brafford, who confronted her at her new seat. The attendant confronted him in return, and told him in a quiet voice to stop it. Long story short, the defendant allegedly whipped out a F-bomb quite a few times, causing other passengers to felt intimidated. We’re serious. That’s pretty much how the complaint described the behavior.

BRAFFORD was yelling and used the word “fuck” a lot.

The flight attendant suggested that the man might have been on drugs. He and the pilot agreed they needed to make an emergency landing before things became even worse. They touched down in Albuquerque, New Mexico, “without additional incident,” authorities said.

Brafford is being prosecuted by the local federal prosecutors. The public defenders office representing him did not immediately responded to a Law&Crime request for comment Sunday.

According to federal investigators, the defendant waived his Miranda Rights, and said he thought the woman may have been flirting with him. He claimed to use methampethamines the day before the flight, and said he overdosed on heroine on October 13. Brafford allegedly said that he got “calls” while on the flight, and said that this meant God was communicating with him.

[Image of unrelated Southwest flight via Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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