ORLANDO, Fla. – A judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for a New Jersey woman who appeared in a viral video riding a motorized suitcase through Orlando International Airport while being pursued by a police officer.
Chelsea Alston, 32, failed to appear in court for her trial on felony charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and criminal mischief.
As her trial was scheduled to get underway, Alston could not be found inside the Orange County Courthouse and her attorney said he had been unable to contact her by phone.
Alston will be extradited to Florida whenever she is arrested, according to the judge’s order.
Alston was barred from boarding an airplane last year because airline workers believed the passenger appeared intoxicated.
Video captured by a police officer’s body-worn camera showed Alston leave the gate area riding a motorized suitcase as the officer followed behind her on a bicycle.
“We’re going to have a bike pursuing a suitcase in a minute,” Officer Andrew Mamone said as he tried to catch up to Alston and escort her out of a secured area of the airport.
Alston was later accused of spitting on the officer and causing more than $1,000 in damage to his patrol car, court records allege.
Alston has pleaded not guilty. 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.
Prosecutors offered Alston a plea deal that would have spared her any additional jail time beyond the 20 days she previously served after her arrest.
Under the proposed plea agreement, Alston would have been placed on supervised probation for two years. She would also be required to pay $1,222 in restitution to the Orlando Police Department for the damaged patrol car and take an anger management course.
Alston turned down the plea offer Monday because she did not want to serve probation, according to her attorney.
“Spitting in my face at the height of a pandemic … warrants some level of probation here,” Mamone told the judge during Monday’s court hearing. He was given an opportunity to speak because he is considered a crime victim under Florida’s Marsy’s law.
“I feel like just giving (Alston) credit for time served probably won’t help deter this action in the future from Ms. Alston, and definitely it doesn’t help deter further action in the eye of the public,” Mamone said.