The surveillance footage from Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport showed Ronald Tigner, a frequent flyer, retired civil lawyer and grandfather, approaching two United employees. At this point, one of the employees violently shoves Tigner to the ground.
"This is just one of the most inhumane things I've ever seen in my life," Tigner's attorney William Hoke said to local outlet KPRC 2. In the video, Tigner lies motionless after hitting the ground, and neither of the United employees pay him any mind.
Hoke claims that Tigner hit his head and was knocked unconscious. "He lies there lifeless for minutes. Not one employee comes to check on him. No one even went to check his pulse," Hoke said. "They literally left him there like a piece of garbage."
The only person who approached Tigner and tried to help him was a passenger who checked on Tigner while the United employees looked on. "It was a good Samaritan, who was a nurse that was catching a flight, ran over and said, 'Please, God. Someone call 911,'" Hoke said.
A United worker did call 911, but he neglected to mention that Tigner was pushed down or unconscious, according to a recording of the conversation. Tigner was taken to a local medical facility. He claims to still suffer from concussion-like symptoms.
United issued a statement on the Tigner footage, albeit about two years after the fact: "We have seen the video from 2015 that shows completely unacceptable behavior by a United employee. This employee is no longer with our company. The conduct shown here does not reflect our values or our commitment to treat all of our customers with respect and dignity. We are taking a thorough look into what happened here and reaching out to our customer to profusely apologize for what occurred and to make this right."
Tigner is suing United Airlines, the man who pushed him Alejandro Anastasia, and Ianthe Phillips-Allred, the other United employee that Anastasia was talking to at the time. Tigner claims that all he did was ask Anastasia for a new boarding pass, because the one he had was garbled. Tigner had tried to go through the security checkpoint with the pass, but the TSA turned him away because they couldn't read it.
"Anastasia was looking at Mr. Tigner and started smiling and said, 'Can't you see we're busy?' and there's no one in the vicinity of these two employees," Hoke said. "And he tells Anastasia to wipe that smile off his face. That's when Anastasia says, 'I'll kick your (expletives)' and shoves Tigner to the ground."
Anastasia was charged with a felony: injury to an elderly individual. The court ordered him to pay a fine, write a letter of apology and attend anger-management classes.
"We want people to come forward who've been treated just like Mr. Tigner and like Dr. Dao, any of the other people who've flown United and been treated this way, because this has to stop," Hoke said, in reference to the April incident when 69-year-old passenger David Dao was injured when United Airlines violently removed him from a flight.
The Dao incident sparked a wave of scrutiny into the conduct of major airlines, with many incidents coming to light of passengers complaining of dehumanizing or cruel behavior. Earlier in June, a classical violinist complained that United employees refused to allow her to board the plane with her extremely valuable violin in her carry-on, which led to a scuffle with an employee which nearly injured her hands.