ORLANDO, Fla. – An intoxicated passenger who was barred from boarding an airplane at Orlando International Airport rode away from the gate on a motorized suitcase as a police officer on a bicycle followed behind her, court records and newly released video shows.
“We’re going to have a bike pursuing a suitcase in a minute,” an Orlando police officer said as he tried to catch up to the passenger, who was driving a scooter-like electric vehicle mounted to her luggage.
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Chelsea Alston, 32, was later accused of battering the police officer and causing more than $1,000 in damage to his patrol car, court records allege. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison for each offense.
Alston is among several dozen passengers who have been arrested at Orlando International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic for unruly or violent behavior, a News 6 investigation found.
Alston, who has entered a plea of not guilty, was travelling from Orlando to New York in April when a Southwest Airlines gate agent refused to let her board because she appeared to be intoxicated, officials said.
“I don’t want no beef. I’m just trying to go home and enjoy myself,” said Alston, who claimed to have had two drinks before her flight.
Orlando police Officer Andrew Mamone informed Alston that her glassy eyes, inability to stand straight and the odor of alcohol on her were reasons for the airline to suspect she was too intoxicated to fly, video from the incident shows.
“It’s OK. You just need to go over to the terminal and sober up a little bit. Get another flight,” Mamone said.
Moments later, as Alston cursed at the officer and waved her middle finger, she rolled away from the gate while sitting on the motorized suitcase.
“Oh man, that thing kind of goes fast,” Mamone said as Alston rode the suitcase through a crowd of passengers, some of whom can be heard giggling at the unusual scene.
[VIDEO BELOW: Dozens of Orlando airline passengers arrested for violent behavior during pandemic]
When Mamone eventually caught up with Alston in the airport’s “people mover” tram, he ordered her to leave the secured area, video from the officer’s body-worn camera shows.
Alston remained in the secure area for nearly 10 minutes, according to the video.
“I just need you to get on the other side of TSA [security checkpoint],” said Mamone, who was still on his agency-issued bicycle. “Follow me, and we’ll roll out together.”
After warning Alston that she could be arrested for remaining in the secure area without a valid boarding pass, Alston appeared to spit on Mamone, the video shows.
After Mamone and another officer placed Alston in handcuffs, the video appears to show Alston spit on Mamone again, reportedly hitting him in the eye.
“Stop spitting,” said the officer.
“I only spit one time,” replied Alston.
Officers escorted Alston to a patrol car outside, the video shows, at times sliding her on the terminal’s tile floor because police say she refused to walk.
While sitting in the back of the patrol car, Alston ripped apart the police vehicle’s fabric headliner and defecated in the seat, causing an estimated $1,200 in damage, according to an arrest report.
Alston was later released from the Orange County jail on a $13,500 bond, records show.
An attorney for Alston declined to comment on the pending prosecution.