HUNTS POINT, N.Y. (CBS 2) – Steven Slater, the flight attendant who cursed out a passenger and deployed an emergency evacuation slide as part of a dramatic exit from the plane – as well as his career – pleaded not guilty Tuesday to numerous felony charges.
The overly disgruntled employee was still wearing the shorts and t-shirt he was wearing arrested in when he appeared in court Tuesday, the morning after police apprehended him at his Belle Harbor home.
He is awaiting release on $2500 bail and faces charges including “depraved indifference to human life” and causing thousands of dollars of damages to the JetBlue plane for deploying the emergency evacuation slide.
“He can’t believe the amount of attention he’s getting,” said his attorney, Howard Turman.
According to Turman, Slater is a gentle, committed aviation employee – the son of a pilot – and was simply overworked and overstressed.
Passengers say Slater lost control while dealing with a rude female passenger – twice – aboard a flight from Pittsburgh to JFK. Inititally, while she fought another passenger for space in an overhead luggage bin, causing Slater a cut on his head.
The confrontation and dramatic exit occurred when that same passenger would not remain seated during landing.
“The woman was outraged and was cursing him,” said Turman. “I think he wanted to avoid conflict with her.”
One of the flight’s passengers, Katie Dobler, spoke exclusively with CBS 2’s Kirstin Cole describing how she thought something was wrong with the flight attendant.
“He seemed kind of casual, and there wasn’t a great vibe between he and the other flight attendants, that I sensed,” she said. “There was something about him that I just felt I needed to pay attention to.”
Dobler was shocked when he exploded in an angry tirade.
“He said, ‘To the (expletive expletive) who just me to (expletive) myself, go (expletive) yourself. It’s been a great 28 years, I’m outta here,’” she said. “And with that, the whole plane gasps, and then everyone starts to giggle, then everyone’s looking at each other in shock, like I can’t believe I just saw that.”
Police caught up with Slater a short time later at his home that he shares with his boyfriend, and took him into custody.