Last updated: 11:09 AM ET, Mon May 16 2016

Armed US Marshal Accused Of Being Drunk On Duty

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | May 16, 2016

Armed US Marshal Accused Of Being Drunk On Duty

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

An armed United States federal air marshal, carrying his service weapon, was removed from a United Airlines flight last week at Heathrow Airport in London after being accused by the captain of being intoxicated.

The incident caused a new two-hour delay for the Los Angeles-bound flight.

The stunning story happened last Monday, May 9, and just hit British newspapers over the weekend.

The marshal was allegedly one of four on the 269-passenger flight.

According to a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police: "On Monday, May 9, police were called at around 12.25pm following concerns by the captain of a flight due to leave Heathrow for Los Angeles that a person trying to board was under the influence of alcohol. Officers attended and breathalysed a man, and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of being over the prescribed limit. The man was taken into custody at Heathrow Police Station, but released shortly after with no further action."

Since the marshal was not operating the flight or a vehicle, he was not charged with a crime under U.K. law, although it has caused concerned nonetheless given he was armed with his weapon, a baton and handcuffs.

Transportation Security Administration rules prohibit federal air marshals from consuming alcoholic beverages within four hours of the scheduled departure time of a non-mission flight, and within eight hours of a mission flight.

A TSA spokesperson told London’s Daily Mail that “While we cannot comment publicly on internal matters currently under investigation, we take all allegations of misconduct seriously.

TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct and takes appropriate action when allegations of misconduct are substantiated.”

A United Airlines spokesman said: "We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused by the delay."


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