A Utah traveler was pepper-sprayed and arrested for assault on a police officer after he drunkenly started a confrontation at the Orlando, Florida airport.
Drinking and flying
45 year old Brandon Strong was traveling with his 8 year old son when he was arrested at a Florida airport prior to boarding his plane back home to Salt Lake City, Utah. A JetBlue airport employee observed Strong starting an argument with a fellow passenger and told Strong he would not be allowed on the flight. Strong, who appeared to have been heavily intoxicated, engaged the airline employee, wrestling and cursing until police were called. When police arrived, Strong continued to behave aggressively towards the attending officers. Strong was videoed by multiple sources getting into a physical struggle with officers until he was finally pepper-sprayed and handcuffed. He was arrested on multiple charges including assault on a police officer.
Assault on a police officer in Utah
Utah Code 76-5-102.4 defines assault on a police officer as when a person:
(a) “Commits an assault or threat of violence against a [police] officer, with knowledge that the person is a [police] officer, and when the [police] officer is acting within the scope of authority as a [police]officer;”
Assault on a police officer in Utah is a class A misdemeanor unless the person has a previous history and/or causes substantial bodily injury, or if they use a dangerous weapon. In those cases, the charges would be increased to a third degree or second degree felony respectively.
Battery on a police officer in Florida
Unfortunately for Strong, he was arrested outside his home state of Utah and will face Florida charges for his conduct at the airport. In Florida, the charges for physical assault on a police officer carry stiffer penalties than they do in Utah. Florida law defines assault as being a threat of violence wherein cases where any physical contact ensues, the charges would then be increased to battery. According to Florida Statute 784.07 , battery of a police officer is a third degree felony which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison or probation and a $5,000 fine. For more information on criminal charges inside or outside the state of Utah, speak with an experienced attorney who can help you find the appropriate legal counsel to handle your case.