Dao was seated with his seatbelt already fastened on a flight from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky on April 9, 2017 when an airline employee told him he had to deplane because the flight was overbooked, according to ABC News
Dao refused to leave the plane, claiming that he felt victimized for his race, and that he needed to return to oversee his clinic for U.S. veterans.
The doctor and his wife opened up the clinic as “a way to thank American servicemen and women, because he was plucked out of ocean waters by the U.S. Navy as he fled communism in his home country of Vietnam about 44 years ago.”
Other passengers on the flight took cell phone video footage and pictures of the then 69-year-old doctor being forcibly dragged and beaten so badly that blood was dripping from his mouth and face.
Months after the assault, Dao watched the viral video of himself and said, “I just cried.”
Dao reported that he suffered a concussion, lacerations to his mouth and nose, and several of his teeth were knocked out. The hospital treating Dao placed him on suicide watch as he re-learned how to walk.
After the accident, Dao turned to faith and charity work.
Dao told ABC News that he “helped residents in Texas displaced by Hurricane Harvey and traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia to help install solar power in villages with no electricity.”
During one of those trips, an elderly man recognized him and asked, “You the one on airplane?”
The CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz issued a public apology on Good Morning America in the wake of the scandal.
“This will never happen again,” Munoz said. “We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off … to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger; we can’t do that.”
Featured images via YouTube / ABC News
(left) and CNN