Alabama deputy fired, another in trouble after drunk, no-mask incident on airplane

Published 9:27 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022

An Alabama sheriff’s office says a deputy is out of a job and another has been disciplined for refusing to wear face masks on an airplane.

Police said they received a call about unruly passengers on a Feb. 26 flight headed to Tampa, Florida, from the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, WAAY-TV reported. Four people were drunk and not wearing masks.

The flight was forced to deplane before takeoff because the rowdy passengers wouldn’t wear masks, as required by Transportation Security Administration policy. Two of the four identified themselves as off-duty law enforcement officers and were later confirmed to be Morgan County deputies.

Birmingham police said one of the deputies started swearing at officers. The group wasn’t arrested, but they weren’t allowed back on the flight.

Turk Jones told the station that he wouldn’t give a statement under the advice of his lawyers but said he could be identified as the deputy who was terminated. The other, whose name hasn’t been released, still works for the sheriff’s office but has been disciplined.

“Our team, like everyone else, still relies on people, which can make mistakes,” Morgan County Sheriff Ron Puckett said in a statement. “However, we are still responsible for our actions. Our agency apologizes to the Birmingham Police Department, Southwest Airlines and the passengers on that flight for this off-duty incident.”