Cleveland ISD officer describes taking down unruly Southwest passenger

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Pam Minchew, who has been a Cleveland ISD officer for barely four weeks, said there was an hour left in the flight when the woman lunged for the emergency exit door.

A Cleveland Independent School District police officer took down an unruly passenger Sunday after eyewitnesses said the woman tried to open the plane's emergency exit in mid-flight.

Flight 4519 landed at Corpus Christi International Airport instead of its intended destination at Hobby Airport. It was coming from Los Angeles.

Pam Minchew, who has been a Cleveland ISD officer for barely four weeks, said there was an hour left in the flight when the woman lunged for the emergency exit door. Minchew happened to be sitting two rows behind it.

RAW VIDEO: Courtney Fischer interviews Pam Minchew one-on-one

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A Cleveland ISD officer took down an unruly passenger Sunday after eyewitnesses said the woman tried to open the plane's emergency exit in mid-flight.



"All I could think about was the movies. Is the door going to come off? There were too many lives, including my children, so at that point I just had to react. She was not going to get the door open," Minchew said.

The officer said she noticed the woman acting strange as soon as she boarded.

"A blank look on her face. You could tell maybe she was on some kind of medication," Michew said.

When the captain turned off the fasten seatbelt sign, Minchew said the woman started pacing the aisle, even walking backwards at times.

Flight attendants moved the woman to the back of the plane and worked to get the situation under control, but about halfway through the flight, Minchew said the woman ran to the front of the plane, climbed over the seat, lunged for the exit and ripped off a plastic piece covering the door lever.
Michew said she yelled that she was a police officer and told everyone to stay calm. Then the rookie officer put the woman face down, put her hands behind her back and walked her to the back of the plane. Flight attendants used zip ties to keep her hands together.

"All I could think about was asking her, 'What are you thinking? There are families on this plane, my children are on this plane, what are you thinking?'" Minchew said.

She sat with the woman for the rest of the flight and kept her calm. Minchew said she didn't ask her any questions because she didn't want the woman to panic.

"Hopefully, this will be a means for her to get help. Fortunately, no one got hurt in the meantime," Minchew said.

The police chief with Corpus Christi International Airport said the woman who caused the disturbance is being evaluated by mental health officials. He said since the incident occurred in flight, the FBI will take over the case and decide if the woman should be charged. Eyewitness News reached out to the FBI. We will keep you posted on the situation.

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