LOS ANGELES – An Orange County man caught on video punching a flight attendant in the back of the head during a flight from Mexico to Los Angeles International Airport was charged Thursday with a federal count of interfering with flight crew members and attendants.
Alexander Tung Cuu Le, 33, of Westminster, was arrested Wednesday when American Airlines flight 377 from San José del Cabo, Mexico, landed at LAX.
Le was caught on cell phone video taken by a passenger slugging a flight attendant in the back of the head during the flight. He was detained by the flight crew and other passengers and bound in a seat.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Le initially put his hands on a flight attendant who was conducting beverage service and asked for coffee, then walked toward the front of the plane when that attendant “put up a defensive posture.”
Le then loitered near the first-class seating area and sat in an aisle until another flight attendant asked him to return to his seat, prosecutors said. Le allegedly clenched his fists, assumed a fighting posture and swung his arm toward the flight attendant, who turned his back and walked toward the front of the plane to report the passenger’s actions, according to prosecutors.
At that point, Le quickly approached the flight attendant from behind and punched him once in the back of the head — an assault that was caught by a passenger on cell phone video.
Le began retreating toward the back of the plane but was detained. The flight attendant was not seriously injured.
Le is expected to make an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon in federal court in downtown Los Angeles. The federal charge he is facing carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
American Airlines issued a statement Thursday saying Le has been permanently banned from future American flights.