Three women from Long Island’s South Shore were arrested Thursday, Jan. 13, and charged with assaulting a Delta Airlines security officer at JFK International Airport in September.
Jordan Nixon, 21, of Bay Shore, Janessa Torres, 21, of Central Islip, and Johara Zavala, 44, of Central Islip, were named in an indictment that was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court for the assault on the security officer and a second airline employee during the same incident.
As alleged in court filings, the defendants refused to leave a jetway at JFK after they were informed that they would be denied boarding for a Delta Airlines scheduled flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sept. 22, 2021. Charges state that the defendants were belligerent, with one appearing to be visibly disoriented and possibly intoxicated, and another who was refusing to properly wear her mask.
The flight’s gate agent notified the flight crew of the defendant’s belligerent conduct, and the captain of the flight and a member of the flight crew determined that the defendants should not be allowed to board the flight, according to prosecutors. The defendants then allegedly refused the request of an airline security officer to leave the jetway and approached him while yelling and cursing. One defendant struck the security officer repeatedly with his own radio, and he fell to the floor.
When the gate agent tried to help the security officer one defendant punched the employee in the face, the charges state. All three defendants then punched and kicked the security officer in the face and body while the gate agent was on the floor. Both victims were treated at a hospital for their injuries.
“As alleged, the defendants viciously assaulted an airline security officer by beating him to the floor with his radio and then kicking and punching him in the face and body while he was down,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “The extreme and aggressive behavior in connection with our air travel is out of control. This office has zero-tolerance for violent conduct that threatens the safety of airline passengers and employees and will prosecute defendants who allegedly engage in such conduct to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, the three defendants were booked on a Delta flight that was supposed to depart JFK at around 8 a.m., but their reservation was changed to another flight that was scheduled to depart just before 1 p.m. As surveillance video and receipts from restaurants and bars at JFK Airport show, the three defendants ordered approximately nine alcoholic beverages between 9 a.m. and just before 1 p.m.
As the three defendants arrived at Gate B42, two gate agents both noticed that Zavala was having difficulty standing and appeared to be disoriented, prosecutors said. After speaking with the defendants, one gate agent could smell the odor of alcohol on Nixon, who was holding a clear go-cup filled with an orange beverage, which smelled like alcohol. The captain exited the airplane and observed the three defendants and determined that they would be denied boarding because they were acting belligerent. The two airline personnel were subsequently assaulted, according to court filings.
“The defendants allegedly attacked two airline employees, who were simply doing their jobs,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “The friendly skies must not turn into chaos and turmoil because some passengers refuse to abide by the rules. Our airport personnel must be safe in order to keep the flying public safe.”