NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man who deployed the emergency slide as a plane taxied at LaGuardia Airport is denying any criminal intent.
But he’s facing a felony charge, and an eye-popping bill for damage to the plane.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello spoke with the suspect and his fiancee, who was also charged.
Antonio Murdock, 31, left Queens Criminal Court on Tuesday after appearing before a judge. He was charged with felony criminal mischief for deploying the emergency exit slide from what’s known as the R-1 door as his Delta flight to Atlanta taxied at LaGuardia before takeoff on Monday morning.
“I panicked. I have panic attacks. That’s it. I didn’t hurt anybody,” Murdock said.
Investigators said Murdock told the flight attendant he had post-traumatic stress disorder after serving 10 years for bank robbery in federal prison. He’s had multiple additional encounters with the law.
More than 100 passengers on the plane watched in confusion as Murdock stormed to the emergency exit and deployed the slide.
Port Authority police quickly grabbed Murdock and 23-year-old Brianna Greco, moments after they slid down to the runway, accompanied by their service dog, a 60-pound greyhound named “Rain.”
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A training video shows the process of opening an emergency exit door on an Airbus A321, and the deployment of the inflatable slide. In court, the Queens District Attorney’s Office revealed the stunning tab for damage to the plane.
“I didn’t commit a crime. I have mental health issues,” Murdock said, adding when told the damage to the plane will cost $173,000 to repair, “I have no idea about that, sir.”
Murdock was released on supervision, meaning he’ll have to check in with the court regularly.
The unauthorized slide deployment triggered a massive Port Authority police and fire response and delayed hundreds of travelers. Murdock’s fiancee was hit with misdemeanor trespass charges, for sliding down to the restricted runway. Their dog was taken to a shelter in Brooklyn.
You might be surprised to learn an emergency door can be opened when the plane is taxiing. An expert told Aiello the door is operable whenever the cabin is not pressurized for flight.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello contributed to this report