Joseph David Emerson, the pilot accused of trying to shut down the engines of an Alaska Airlines plane in the middle of a commercial route, told police he used to eat psychedelic mushrooms.
The pilot accompanied the official crew of the plane, which carried 83 people.
According to testimonies from pilots and airline personnel, mid-flight between Astoria and Portland, Oregon, the man pulled a red lever, which is used to put out fires in aircraft engines.
When the mechanism is activated, the fuel supply to the engines is cut off, and they shut down, according to the indictment published on Tuesday.
This is the narrative attached to the indictment:
“Pilot 1” said there was no indication that anything had happened to Emerson, who was a passenger in the cockpit.
He said that while sitting in the jump seat in the cabin, Emerson said, “I’m not good.” “Pilot 2” turned and watched as Emerson approached, grabbed the red fire levers, and lowered them.
“Pilot 1” explains that these levers activate the aircraft’s fire extinguishing system, which is used to extinguish engine fires.
At that moment, “Pilot 1” held Emerson’s wrist while “Pilot 2” declared an in-flight emergency. “Pilot 1” said that Emerson resisted first, and they confronted him physically for 25 to 30 seconds, which he estimated, and the matter quickly calmed down.
“Pilot 1” asked Emerson to leave the cockpit, and Emerson exited.
Flight attendants received a call from the cockpit that Emerson had “lost his temper” and had to leave the cockpit. Emerson was observed walking calmly towards the back of the plane.
Emerson told a flight attendant that “they just kicked him off the flight deck.” Emerson told the flight attendant, “You have to handcuff me now or everything is going to go bad.”
Flight workers seated Emerson in a seat at the back of the plane and handcuffed his wrists. During the flight’s descent, Emerson turned toward an emergency exit door and tried to grab the handle.
A flight attendant stopped Emerson by putting her hands on Emerson’s. The flight attendant spoke to Emerson in an attempt to distract him from trying to retrieve the emergency exit handle.
Another flight attendant observed Emerson make statements such as “I destroyed everything” and that he was “trying to kill everyone.” The flight attendant noticed that Emerson took out his cell phone and appeared to be texting on the phone.
Once on the ground, the pilot was detained and agreed to speak to the police. Emerson said he believed he had a “nervous breakdown” and hadn’t slept in 40 hours.
His narration was: “I don’t feel well. The pilots didn’t seem to care what was happening. “They don’t. It doesn’t seem right.” Emerson also said, “Yes, I pulled both handles of the emergency lock because I thought I was dreaming and just wanted to wake up.”
Emerson denied taking any medication but stated that about six months ago he became depressed.
The officer and Emerson discussed the use of psychedelic mushrooms, and Emerson said it was his first time taking them.
While being led away by the police, Emerson refused to have a lawyer.