Man accused of slapping flight attendant

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By Martin Finucane and David Abel
Globe Staff / June 1, 2011

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A 48-year-old man from Utica, N.Y., was arrested yesterday morning by State Police on charges of slapping a flight attendant on a JetBlue plane bound from Florida to Logan International Airport, but a clerk magistrate declined to issue charges against him, saying the incident had not happened in Massachusetts.

Bryan Garnett was arrested after arriving on JetBlue Airways Flight 422 from West Palm Beach, authorities said.

State Police said they were bringing charges of interfering with a flight crew and assault and battery because Garnett had slapped a male flight attendant.

But Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said late yesterday afternoon that a clerk magistrate in East Boston Municipal Court had declined the State Police application for complaints against Garnett for “jurisdictional reasons,’’ because the alleged slap had taken place when the plane was on the ground in Florida.

“He faces no charges in Massachusetts,’’ Wark said.

“We’re currently looking into today’s events to determine an appropriate course of action,’’ JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras said in an e-mail.

Garnett was released; he could not be reached for comment.

Before the flight took off, a flight attendant ordered Garnett to move his bag beneath his seat, according to a Globe reporter who was sitting two rows away. It appeared Garnett attempted to comply, but the flight attendant was not satisfied.

There was no apparent commotion during the three-hour flight, and few passengers seemed to be aware that there was a problem until flight attendants ordered all passengers to remain seated after the plane arrived at the gate and several state troopers boarded the plane. They ordered Garnett to stand up. Garnett stood up, removed a bag from an overhead compartment, and was escorted off the plane.

In a separate incident yesterday, Delta Airlines called State Police reporting an unruly passenger and asking for assistance in the passenger’s deplaning from Flight 412, which had arrived, according to the airline website, at 12:47 a.m. The trooper responded, and the passenger left the airport in the custody of a guardian, said Sergeant Matthew Murray, a State Police spokesman. No charges were filed.

Martin Finucane can be reached at; David Abel at