BELLE HARBOR, N.Y. (CBS 2) — On Thursday afternoon flight attendant Steven Slater came out of his house and thanked his supporters.
But, as CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman reports, where he has told “one” story, passengers are saying there was a whole other side of him that’s quite different from the folk hero and victim he’s been made out to be.
After some brief words from his attorney, Slater stepped up to the microphones and said: “Thank you all so much. It’s been amazing, the support, the love and everything that’s been brought to me and given to me by the community and my friends and the industry at large. It has been absolutely wonderful.”
Many, if not most, of the passengers who are now being interviewed by Port Authority detectives about what happened on Monday on that bizarre JetBlue flight with Slater seem to be giving a very different version of his behavior during the flight, than the picture most people have of him — who were not there.
Howard Deneroff, for example, is a producer for CBS Radio’s Westwood One. Slater, he said, got pretty aggressive about Deneroff not having his seat in the upright position.
“He did hit the back of my seat and said, ‘Pull your seat up. It can’t be reclined.’ It was not reclining and I indicating it to him and then he says, ‘Pull your seat up.’ I said I didn’t recline the seat and he leaned over, hit the button to try to pull it up himself. He hit the back of the seat, but it didn’t move,” Deneroff said.
It didn’t move because it was already up, Deneroff said. Then there’s passenger Kati Doebler. She said that Slater’s story about getting the cut on his head when a passenger dropped a piece of luggage on him from the overhead compartment at the end of the flight — the incident that triggered the cursing on the PA system, and the escape on the chute — may not be true.
In fact, Slater’s legal aide attorney, Howard Turman, told the media on Thursday Slater actually suffered the injury in Pittsburgh, before Flight 1052 even took off.
“They were shoving the bags around attempting to get it in. Steven came over to assist and either the bag or the overhang hit him on the head,” Turman said.
Doebler said passengers saw the bleeding cut as soon as they boarded, and she said Slater never pu on a bandage. And, she said, there was that drink he always seemed to be carrying.
“One of the times he passed by me he was carrying what could either have been a drink for himself, and that was a little bit of the impression I got, as he was kind of waving it about like it was his own cocktail,” Doebler said.
Investigators are looking into claims by several passengers that Slater seemed to be irritable and unsteady, as if drinking, even throwing the mask and life jacket to the ground, some said, during the demonstration.
Detectives are continuing to hear a lot about Slater’s behavior during the flight, the types of things that could continue to erode his stories, like the one CBS 2’s Guzman heard from passenger Lauren Wood.
“He came up and he had a bunch of sodas in his hand and he looked at me and was like, ‘Would you like a soda?’ And I was like, ‘Can I have a water?’ And he just glares at me and walks away. And I was kind of like oh my gosh I really upset this guy,” Wood said.
Wood also said the notion that Slater is some kind of saint is ridiculous.
“It makes me so mad, because he’s not a hero. He was rude,” Wood said.
Slater said he wants to get back to work in the airline industry. His mother, after all, was a flight attendant and his father was a pilot, but with the dramatic exit he made Monday — that’s going to be tough.