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CVG Airport police removed more than 70 passengers from planes for alleged bad conduct in 2021

Passenger: 'I'm not a terrorist'
CVG Airport police body camera video shows an officer asking passengers to get off a plane on October 29, 2021, after the flight crew asked police to remove them.
Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 15:51:50-05

HEBRON, Ky. — James Grieshop and his wife, Bonnie, were on an Allegiant Airlines plane on Oct. 29, 2021, heading to Florida for a vacation.

Allegiant employees described the Grieshops as "uncooperative," adding that Mrs. Grieshop appeared "intoxicated," according to the CVG Airport police incident report.

The Allegiant pilot asked officers to remove the Grieshops from the aircraft.

Police body camera video shows the couple insisting they had a right to stay on the flight and initially refused to leave.

"We were wrongfully taken off of that plane," Mrs. Grieshop told the WCPO 9 I-Team last Thursday during a phone conversation. "We didn't know if we was getting kidnapped. Nothing."

Minutes later, after deboarding the plane, body camera video shows Mrs. Grieshop initially refused to give her ID to officers.

"At one point, Mrs. Grieshop attempted to push me away," an officer wrote in the police report. "The Grieshops caused annoyance and alarm."

Officers arrested them and took the couple to the Boone County Jail.

"I'm not a f****** terrorist," Mr. Grieshop is heard yelling on a body camera video as he sat handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. "We're just trying to get on a f****** plane to go to Florida."

Mr. and Mrs. Grieshop are charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Mrs. Grieshop is also charged with public intoxication.

"We weren't drunk," Mrs. Grishop told the I-Team.

They pleaded not guilty and said they plan to go to trial.

The Federal Aviation Administration reports 2021 was the worst year ever for "unruly passengers" on commercial planes.

There were nearly 6,000 disruptive passengers last year, according to the FAA.

The FAA reports that in 72% of those incidents, flight crews complained about passengers refusing to wear face masks as required by federal law.

Overall, these incidents are still rare.

According to the FAA, there were 6.9 unruly passengers for every 10,000 flights in 2021.

The WCPO 9 I-Team wanted to see how often CVG Airport police respond to airline concerns about passenger behavior and what happens in those cases.

CVG police records show that officers responded to 53 incidents involving alleged disorderly conduct by more than 70 passengers in 2021.

In all, officers charged eight passengers for their alleged conduct at CVG in 2021.

Four of those passengers pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

In most incidents that resulted in an arrest, officers mentioned that a passenger appeared to be intoxicated.

Most unruly passenger incidents at CVG involved disputes over face masks.

In nearly all incidents, the "unruly" passengers were not allowed to return to the plane.

Some passengers booked new flights at CVG on the same airline.

In most cases, police reports mention that officers notified the Transportation Safety Administration about the incident.

And, in most of those cases, even when there were arrests, TSA did not respond, according to the police reports.

The I-Team left several voicemail messages for TSA, but the agency didn't respond to us either.

The pillowcase on fire at 35,000 feet

Pillow set on fire in a plane

On a June 4, 2021 overnight Allegiant flight from Los Angeles to CVG, Rich Loesing saw the guy sitting next to him light his pillow case on fire.

"It was a pretty scary incident," Loesing said. "He seemed surprised that we said something and quickly put it out. That's when I called the flight attendants."

Loesing said that passenger, Joshua Banks, had previously taken pills and appeared disoriented.

A flight attendant moved Loesing across the aisle, then sat next to Banks for more than an hour, according to the police report.

"I'm just sitting across the aisle feeling my heart in my chest," Loesing told the I-Team. "The flight attendant did a phenomenal job."

According to the CVG Airport police incident report, a flight attendant later moved Banks toward the back of the plane and sat with him for the rest of the flight.

When the plane landed at CVG, officers escorted him off the aircraft.

"I'm going to forward this to FAA and Homeland Security about him lighting up that pillow," one officer told the flight crew on a body camera video.

Banks told CVG Airport Fire Department first responders that he had taken Fentanyl and Xanax, according to the police report.

The officers took Banks to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Florence.

When the hospital physician discharged Banks, an officer took him to the Boone County Jail.

Boone County court records show Banks pleaded guilty to two criminal misdemeanors, including possession of a controlled substance.

The I-Team made several unsuccessful attempts to reach Banks for comment.

Vaping on a plane

Flight attendants accused passengers of vaping in a bathroom on two different flights into CVG.

On Dec. 29, 2021, the smoke alarm went off on an American Airlines flight from Dallas to CVG.

Flight attendants believed a passenger vaping inside a bathroom set off the alarm, according to the police report.

There was a "cherry" scent in the bathroom after the passenger left, which helped convince them he had been vaping.

CVG Airport officers interviewed the passenger who denied vaping on the flight.

Officers allowed him to leave and referred the case to the TSA and FAA.

On Jan. 26, 2021, a passenger on a Delta flight from Fort Lauderdale was in the bathroom vaping and wouldn't open the door, according to the police report.

Flight attendants said after the passenger left the bathroom, she refused to identify herself.

Officers responded to the flight crew's request to remove the passenger from the plane.

The passenger told officers she had anxiety and needed to vape by herself to help get herself under control, according to the police report.

Officers notified TSA and allowed her to leave the airport.

TSA did not respond, according to the police report.

The I-Team made several requests for an interview with the CVG Airport police chief or someone speaking on behalf of the department.

We wanted to discuss police responses to unruly passenger incidents, but we were not granted an interview.

Instead, CVG Airport emailed us a written statement.

"Passenger and flight safety is the paramount concern of all stakeholders involved in the travel experience, including airport management, airlines, and federal partners," CVG Airport Spokeswoman Mindy Kershner wrote. "Upon notification of an unruly passenger, airport police respond and act as warranted by the situation."