Plea deal refused in motorized suitcase chase at Orlando airport

Chelsea Alston faces 5 years in prison if convicted of battering a police officer

ORLANDO, Fla. – A New Jersey woman accused of repeatedly spitting on an Orlando International Airport police officer and damaging his patrol car turned down a prosecutor’s plea offer that would have spared her jail time.

Chelsea Alston told a judge Monday that she wanted to proceed to a jury trial. She faces charges of battering a police officer and causing more than $1,000 in property damage.

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If convicted, Alston faces a maximum of five years in prison for each felony count. She has pleaded not guilty.

Alston, 32, appeared in a now-viral video first obtained by News 6 that shows her riding a motorized suitcase through the Orlando airport as a police officer on a bicycle followed behind her.

Alston 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.

After an Orlando police officer instructed Alston to return to the main terminal to sober up and book a later flight, Alston rode away from the gate on a scooter-like electric vehicle mounted to her luggage.

“We’re going to have a bike pursuing a suitcase in a minute,” Officer Andrew Mamone said as he rode a bicycle through the airport trying to catch up to Alston.

The officer repeatedly ordered Alston to leave the secured area of the airport, but she did not immediately do so, video from the incident shows.

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.

Alston spit on the officer a second time, striking him in the eye, after she was placed in handcuffs, court records allege.

Alston later ripped apart a fabric headliner inside the officer’s patrol car and defecated in the seat, causing an estimated $1,200 in damage, according to an arrest report.

During a trial management conference Monday, prosecutors offered to let Alston plead guilty to lesser charges of misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor criminal mischief.

In exchange for her plea, prosecutors said they would ask the judge to withhold adjudication so a criminal conviction would not appear on Alston’s record after she successfully completed two years of supervised probation.

Under the proposed plea deal, Alston would have been required to take an anger management course, complete 75 hours of community service and pay $1,222 in restitution to the Orlando Police Department.

[FULL VIDEO: Drunken woman on motorized suitcase leads police chase through Orlando airport, officials say]

Alston told the judge she would not accept the plea offer and instead opted to be tried by a jury on the original felony charges. The trial is scheduled to begin as early as March 7.

Alston and her attorney declined to comment following Monday’s court hearing.

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.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades.