Vyvianna Quinonez brutally attacked a Southwest Airlines flight attendant in May in a story that made headlines around the world. Not only did she punch a flight in the attendant in the face and grab her by the hair, but broke three teeth, injured her eye, and bruised her arm. But Quinonez, now arraigned in federal court, claims she was only acting in self-defense. And she has an onboard witness who backs her up who is not a member of the family…
Passenger Claims Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Was Initial Aggressor In Assault That Resulted In Lost Teeth
Initial reports suggested the that after Southwest Airlines flight 700 from Sacramento (SMF) to San Diego (SAN) landed, Quinonez removed her seatbelt and stood up. A flight attendant told her remain seated and put her mask on and refuse, but she refused. When the flight attendant told her to sit down again, she attacked the flight attendant.
Quinonez claims she was acting in self-defense against an overly-aggressive flight attendant, who physically grabbed her before she even laid a hand on her.
Michelle Manner, another passenger on the flight, backs up that account. She has testified that the Qunonez yelled, “Get off me. Quit touching me. Get your hands off of me,” several times before touching the flight attendant. Manner added that the flight attendant was screaming at Quinonez, which triggered the situation by unnecessarily raising tensions.
As Quinonez faces criminal charges which may land her not just a hefty fine, but jail time, the new claims are an interesting twist. Perhaps they are nothing but a pathetic last-ditch attempt to fight jail time, but if true, do provide better context of what happened.
Even if verbally provoked, there is no defense for a close-fist punching of a flight attendant that knocks her teeth out. Even if the flight attendant did try to push Quinonez back into her seat, striking her repeatedly is not a proportional response or valid self-defense.
But I will say this: if I was judge or jury and it was proven that the flight attendant was screaming and pushing the passenger first, Quinonez would not be receiving as harsh a sentence.
As the passenger who assaulted a Southwest Airlines flight attendant now faces criminal charges for her conduct, she is claiming–and has a witness to back her up–that the flight attendant essentially assaulted her first. It’s an interesting new twist, though I’m not sure it is anything more than an eleventh hour attempt to avoid the slammer.