Police: Man attacks teen over cell phone on plane
December 29th, 2010
03:02 AM ET

Police: Man attacks teen over cell phone on plane

A 68-year-old Idaho man has been charged with misdemeanor battery after police say he struck a teen who would not turn off his phone while the plane they were in was taxiing for takeoff.

The incident took place Tuesday evening on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho, said Lt. Kent Lipple of the Boise police.

The man, Russell Miller, was arrested after the plane landed, Lipple said.

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soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. kim

    That man should of handle that better he should of just asked the kid to turn it off. There are alot of rude people today they dont pay for you to exist but feel they can attack you its rude. That teen paid for his flight just like the older guy did and he paid for his cell phone to use it whenever he wants to. There are just rude people that dont brother to ask they just make demands yet they dont pay for anything you do or have. Its very wrong and rude. Now at 68 hes in trouble with the law when he could of just asked instead of hitting some else child. I do agree those people in Idaho are crazy. Its just rude if you dont know how to act in public where people are strangers and trying to travel we have to respect boundries.. He should of asked and not resorted to violence.

    December 29, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      While the older man could have handled it better, according to much more detailed reports, the teen had refused to turn his phone off, and was talking on the phone, despite being told several times to turn it off by the flight crew. The teens parents were not on the flight, and pressed charges after the flight landed. The teen was being rude, and was putting the passengers at risk. Cell phones can interfere with many of the planes systems, including the communications system. There is an avionics term called a KIO, or "knock it off" which means they need to abort their current operation (like take-off or landing) for safety reasons (generally another plane in the vicinity that poses a risk) and the piolts needs to be able to hear and understand the directions without the chance of disruption. Often these decisions have to be made, and reacted to, within seconds and if there is something interfering with the communications system there is the chance that the instructions may not be heard on time. The older man may have acted rashly, but he reacted to what he viewed as a threat to his and the other passengers safety. I'm not saying I agree with his reaction, but I can understand his reasons for it. He wasn't being rude, he was being safety conscious.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. bambam

    Why don't we all just meet in the nearest state and have a cellphone war I'm on the old mans side lol

    December 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. darcie

    why are you all calling a teenager a kid. teenagers are just that. teenagers. quite a few i know are disrespectful, dont listen to directions, are rude and thier parents stick up for them because they dont want to admit failure in raising a brat of a person. this man was probably fed up with the rude behavior from this brat and knocked some sense into him. throw the parents in jail for not teaching thier teens mannors.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. darcie

    @ kim. how many times can you use the word rude in one paragraph? maybe he did ask and the teen ignored him as most teens do when raised by parents that are never there but instead give them a cell phone to make up for the lack of really being a parent. if he would of listened and turned off his phone he wouldnt have had someone else slapping him to get his attention.

    December 29, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brandie

    Wow, there are a lot of angry people on this site. First, it is NEVER ok to go around and punch people, whether they make you angry or not. Second, he should have alerted the flight attendant of the problem. Third, please teach your kids some manners. Fourth, most of you should consider some anger management classes. No wonder other countries think that American's are violent.

    December 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. deserve it.

    Maybe the old man saved all passenger's life. Maybe the old man said "ather be in jail than been dead".

    December 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. phil

    @Ilya...then how did we hear cellphone calls from that airliner on 9/11?

    December 29, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bambam

    @phil never mind just nevermind phil you just don't get it sorry man THEY TURNED THE PHONES OOON during the time of mid flight to call for help and to tell there familys they love them and would not see them nomore very very sad

    December 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kim

    Bully pick at children even when there old enough to know better. The older man worries me to go off on such a small thing he should of handle it like a adult. There are men that feel children have no voice and use violence to silence them I just wonder if this man treats his own children so stern, if so its called abuse. Yes its rude when you a stranger and decide to attack someone else kid. Be polite travel with mutual respect!

    December 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SamJackson

    Say airplane mode again I dare you! Airplane mode aint no country I ever heard of!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    Why wasn't the teenager arrested for violating federal law?

    Or do we just get told to shut them off for the convenience of the airline?

    December 30, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      @Everyone: The FEDERAL Aviation Administration (FAA), a federal agency, regulations state that "all passenger electronics MUST be turned OFF and stored in an approved manner, during taxi to and from the terminal, take-offs and landings of all aircraft." This is for more than the reason of "electronic interference," though that is one of the primary concerns. I'm sure you have flown from one city to another. During take-off a plane can exert up to 3.5 G's on passengers and cargo, and any loose items (especially dense, hard objects like laptops, hand-held gaming systems and most modern cell phones) can become projectiles that can cause physical harm to the passengers. The regulations are in place for the safety of ALL passengers, and it isn't up to an individual passenger to determine if the regulation applies to them. Just like you aren't allowed to get up and move around during heavy turbulence. ALL electronics emit Electromagnetic interference (EMI). A single cellphone can disrupt, or make unintelligable, a short-wave transmission. Now immaging what a hundred or more can do. There are only so many frequencies out there that allow for reliable transmission over long ranges. Cell phones, aircraft radios, LMR (The radios police and fire fighters use), and certian CB/short range radios use these frequencies. Have you ever flipped through the radio stations and found two station so close together that they overlapped a little? Kinda the same thing going on there. Have you ever sat down at your computer, and heard the buzzing come out of the speakers right before you recieved a text or call? Again, same thing (many speakers and the radio transmissions of cellphones operate within similar frequencies.

      I'd suggest you look up the authorized operating frequencies of devices (you can find a list on the FAA website) and see what type of interferences we are talking about.

      @Ben: As long as the phone was off before final taxi before take-off (which was pretty much forced by the older man) the teen won't be charged or fined. Kinda a bit of bull if you ask me.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gabriel Gonzalez-Ovalle

    I think its cell phone companies fault for making airplane mode. With that, people believe it was made just for airplanes and certain people wont have to worry about it. I think we should take off airplane mode off phones so we can all can just follow standard procedures.

    December 30, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      Agreed... Airplane mode was orriginally created to allow the operation of certain devices (Blackberries and PDAs that doubled as cell phones) during flight when electronics are allowed to be used; not as a bypass for federal regulation in the operation of electronic devices during the taxi, take-off and landing of the plane.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. GuerillaGorilla

    This is a major problem in the US, and the world, right now. People are so attached to their cell phones that they throw safety to the winds in oder to talk "just a minute longer" or when they THINK they are perfectly within their rights to. Instead they are creating hazardous situations that put more than just themselves at risk. In the city where I live there have been over one hundred accidents this year alone due to use of a cell phone while driving. Several of these accidents resulted in a death. There have been litterally dozens of pedestrians struck my motorvehicles while crossing the road because they were concentrating on the phone conversation rather than traffic.

    Basic lesson in physics:
    To stop an average human (~180 lbs or ~81.8 kg) from a full sprint (~8 mph or ~12 kph) safely takes roughly 8 ft (2.6 meters).
    To stop the average sub-compact vehicle (~2100 lbs or ~954.5 kg) from city street speeds (25 mph or 40 kph) takes roughly 15 ft (4.8 meters)
    To stop the average SUV (~5000 lbs or ~2272.7 kg) from city street speeds takes roughly 22 ft (7 meters).
    For each increment of 7mph add 82% to the vehicles weight and divide by 9.6. This is the impact pressure on a human body per square inch. e.g 5000 lb suv traveling at 14 mph striking a person exerts 1,375 pound of pressure per square inch. Formula: ({[5000*.82]*2}+5000)/9.6 The strongest bone in the body (femur) can only take roughly half that before breaking. This is only a basic formula that makes the assumption the person struck is standing still and the person driving maintains a stready rate of 14 mph.

    The point being: Cell phones are increasing negligence and decreasing the attention to safety that people need to pay attention to. They are creating a massive problem in the US, and other countries, and the problem is only becoming worse as cell phone technology advances. Teens entire "lives" revolve around the cell phone and the connection it provides to everyone else in the world, and this incident was only a single publicised event in the ongoing problem.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. DisgruntledGrrl

    This is blown WAY out of proportion. The stewardess reported that not only did she already ask the boy to turn off the iPhone – but the man only punched the kid in the arm.
    Incidentally, doesn't that guy look like a healthy Dennis Quaid?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. Karl Ramirez

    @awh, I must fall back on 21 years' experience as a firefighter and as past fire chief.
    Cell phones cannot ignite gasoline vapors.
    Now for the confrontation over use of the phone -
    Assault is unlawful.
    A violation of the LAW.
    Use of the cell phone when forbidden by FAA is a violation of a rule, but not the LAW.
    The "old white guy" violated the LAW when he committed assault.
    It is quite possible he also saved the lives of everyone on board by putting an end to an activity the FAA has deemed dangerous.

    January 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
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