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Deputies Use Stun-Gun To Subdue Passenger Near Airport Runway
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 26, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA--A Pompano Beach man with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder was subdued Monday afternoon by sheriff's deputies armed with taser stun guns on an airport tarmac after bursting through the exit door of a Continental Airlines jetliner.

Troy Anthony Rigby, 28, was taken to a Broward County jail and was charged Tuesday with battery, aggravated battery, battery on a law enforcement officer, trespassing, resisting arrest with violence and criminal mischief. According to the Miami Herald, Rigby had a warrant for marijuana possession at the time of Monday's incident at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Rigby had boarded Flight 408 bound for Newark, New Jersey, where family members live and where he said he planned to get treatment for his mental illnesses.

Witnesses later told reporters that, as the plane was delayed near the runway for about 30 minutes, Rigby told fellow passengers he was claustrophobic. Then he suddenly got up and ran toward the front of the plane, yelling "Let me go. Let me go. Let me out of here."

Rigby repeatedly slammed his body against the cockpit door, saying he needed to get out of the plane. At least four passengers and one flight attendant tried to restrain Rigby, who bit the hand of one of the passengers.

Rigby opened a passenger door, then dropped 10 feet from the moving plane to the tarmac. As Rigby headed toward the terminal, sheriff's deputies approached and tried to arrest him. When he resisted, one deputy shot him at least four times with a Taser stun gun before they finally were able to subdue him.

The incident happened about six weeks after federal air marshals shot and killed Rigoberto Alpizar, who had not taken medication for his bipolar disorder, as he ran out of an American Airlines flight sitting at a terminal at Miami International Airport. On December 7, Alpizar had run off the plane and into the jetway, but failed to follow the officers' instructions to get down on the floor. Air marshals later said they suspected Alpizar had explosives in his backpack, which they claimed he had reached for when they shot him.

Rigby's family members told reporters that he had been institutionalized at least three times in the past, that he had a history of stopping his medication. He had been experiencing migraine headaches during the past couple of weeks and was headed to New Jersey to seek treatment.

"I couldn't tell you what triggered that Monday," Rigby's sister, Leslie, told the Associated Press about her brother's outburst.

"We're not blaming anyone. We're glad they tried to subdue him."

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, passengers disrupted about 300 U.S. flights each year, because of anger, anxiety or mental illness. Aviation officials said that the number of incidents has dropped since then because of tight security, but that no current figures were available.

"Family: Illness led to airport leap" (Miami Herald)
"Man in Fort Lauderdale plane fracas has mental health problems" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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