NFL free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was removed from an American Airlines flight to Los Angeles at Miami International Airport Sunday morning after refusing to comply with safety protocol, according to a statement from the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Officers were notified around 9:30 a.m. Sunday of a medical emergency on an American Airlines flight. The flight crew became concerned for a passenger — identified by police as Beckham — when they tried to wake him up to fasten his seatbelt, according to a statement from the Miami Police Department.
“He appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness before they left,” the police statement read. “Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill and that his condition would worsen during the expected 5-hour flight, the servants called the police and fire brigade.”
When officers arrived, they asked Beckham several times to leave the plane, which the statement said refused. The plane was evacuated after which officers asked Beckham to leave the plane and he did so without incident, the statement said.
“American Airlines Flight 1228, serving Miami (MIA) to Los Angeles (LAX), returned to the gate before takeoff because a passenger failed to follow crew member instructions and refused to fasten his seatbelt. The customer was removed and the flight departed again at 10:54 a.m. local time,” American Airlines said in a statement obtained by CNN.
Daniel Davillier, Beckham’s lawyer, issued a statement saying his client boarded the plane that morning without any problems. The flight was delayed and Beckham fell asleep with his blanket over his head — a normal habit of his on long flights, Davillier said.
“He was woken up and told the plane was back at the gate and he had to get off the plane because he hadn’t put on his seatbelt when asked,” Davillier’s statement read, adding that Beckham was told it was too late was to fasten the seat belt. the belt and he would either have to get off the plane or everyone would have to get off the plane.
“The overzealous flight attendant refused to simply let Mr. Beckham fasten his seatbelt and continue with the flight and instead immediately evacuated everyone from the plane,” Davillier said. “Mr Beckham was at no time disruptive or belligerent.”
Davillier called the incident “totally unnecessary.”
“Sleeping on an airplane should not be a reason to be removed from a flight,” said the lawyer. “If they could have woken him up when the flight returned to the gate, they could have done the same and woken him up and asked him to put on his seatbelt.”
No charges have been filed in the incident and after Beckham was escorted by officers to the unsecured area of the terminal on Sunday morning, Beckham “made other arrangements,” police say.
Beckham is currently a free agent while still recovering from surgery to repair a knee injury he sustained in Super Bowl LVI as a member of the Los Angeles Rams in February. Beckham had a touchdown catch in the Rams’ winning effort over the Cincinnati Bengals in that game.
Beckham was spotted in Miami on Wednesday night sitting courtside during the Miami Heat-Washington Wizards game, according to a video posted on the NBA’s official Twitter account.