MIAMI (AP) — NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. was removed from a plane by police before takeoff at Miami International Airport after officials said he failed to respond to requests to buckle up and was unconscious to be, police and airline officials said on Sunday.
“Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill and that his condition would worsen during the expected 5-hour flight,[flight crew members]called the police and fire department,” Miami Dade Police Officer Luis Sierra said in a statement after the 9:30 a.m. incident on Sunday.
“When they tried to wake up (Beckham) to put on his seat belt, he appeared to pass out,” the statement said.
American Airlines representative Alfredo Garduno confirmed that Flight 1228 bound for Los Angeles returned to the gate before takeoff “because a customer failed to follow crew members’ instructions and refused to fasten their seat belts.”
Carlos Gauna, a business class passenger, said he recognized Beckham before boarding the flight and later recorded him with his cellphone camera as he walked through the airport terminal with police. He said Beckham was in first grade.
“He just walked quietly. The police escorted him out,” Gauna said, adding that the flight was full and he heard “grumbling” from other passengers.
Gauna, a filmmaker, returned to Camarillo, California near Los Angeles after more than two weeks documenting sharks in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil.
He said the plane was taxiing for takeoff when the captain announced that “a one-passenger situation” required a return to the terminal. Gauna said an ambulance arrived and paramedics boarded the plane and spoke to Beckham before police removed him.
The other passengers reboarded and the flight later flew to Los Angeles, where Gauna spoke to The Associated Press
A Twitter post Attributed to Beckham appeared to be referring to the incident, saying, “I’ve never in my life experienced what just happened to me,” adding with a misspelling that he “saw it all.”
Police said Beckham was “escorted by officers to the non-secure area of the terminal where he made other arrangements.”
Sierra did not immediately respond to questions about whether Beckham was arrested or subpoenaed for a felony.
Beckham, 30, is a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who has been a free agent since helping the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl last February. He caught a touchdown pass before tearing ligaments in his knee in the 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beckham has been reported to be close to a league return and the Dallas Cowboys have said they want to sign him.
Several other teams are expected to come after Beckham, who has been at the center of controversy during previous stints with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.