Jury Charges Off-Duty Pilot For Allegedly Attempting To Shut Down Jet’s Engines Mid-Flight

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Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
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The off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who allegedly tried to a crash a plane mid-flight was indicted on multiple charges, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

The Multnomah grand jury indicted 44-year-old Joseph David Emerson on one count of endangering an aircraft and 83 counts of recklessly endangering another person, according to the New York Post. Oregon prosecutors initially sought to charge him with an additional 83 counts of attempted murder. Emerson’s lawyer said the jury concluded Emerson did not intend to harm anyone during the incident, per the New York Post.

The charges stem from an incident on a Horizon Air flight Oct. 22 where Emerson was allegedly under the influence of magic mushrooms and allegedly attempted to interfere with the aircraft’s operation, according to the New York Post. During the flight from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco, California, Emerson reportedly occupied the cockpit’s jump seat as a standby passenger.

He allegedly attempted to activate the jet’s fire suppression handles, which would have shut down both engines. The on-duty pilot and first officer reportedly thwarted Emerson’s alleged actions. He was reportedly restrained until the plane safely landed in Portland, Oregon. (RELATED: REPORT: Passengers Sue Alaska Airlines Over Off-Duty Pilot Who Allegedly Tried To Shut Down Engines)

Police said Emerson was aware of his erratic behavior.

“You need to cuff me right now, or it’s going to be bad,” Emerson said, according to a police officer’s interview with the flight crew, per New York Post. Police reportedly arrested Emerson upon landing. Emerson reportedly then revealed to police he hadn’t slept for 40 hours and had taken psychedelic mushrooms during the weekend.

Emerson expressed his disorientation and questioned the reality of his actions, per the New York Post. He reportedly even believed he might be in hell. Emerson shared his belief crashing the plane might’ve awakened him from what he perceived to be a nightmare, according to a jailhouse interview with The New York Times.