He said his trouble began when he got up to use the bathroom and didn’t sit back down in the seat he was assigned.
“He apparently sits in the wrong seat and was told to change seats by a flight attendant,” his attorney, Howard Schaffner, told ABC News. “He didn’t think he was in the wrong seat and there was an argument and, at some point, he was hit.”
The septuagenarian didn’t understand why he was being asked to move and said that though he speaks and understands English, “he has some difficulty understanding” it when it’s spoken by someone who isn’t Nigerian.
Schaffner said his client was brutally struck by a member of the flight crew during the argument leaving “a large welt on his face.”
He was then allegedly tied up with a hemp rope and had his mouth taped, riding out the rest of the flight, restrained and without any food or water.
Ukesone, who is a retired police officer, hadn’t been on an airplane in 35 years, his lawyer said.
“Everybody needs to step back for a second and take a deep breath,” Schaffner said. “He hasn’t flown in a long time and he’s clearly from another country … he just made an honest mistake of sitting in the wrong seat and people have to be trained to deal with things like that, without escalating them into something crazy.”
When the flight landed, Ukesone had to be taken out on a stretcher to University of Chicago Medical Center where he stayed for several days as he was treated for lacerations and bruising.
Schaffner said his client wasn’t on any medication and hadn’t had any alcohol before the flight.
“The man did nothing more than sit in the wrong seat,” his attorney said. “Even if he’s in the wrong seat you don’t have to beat the guy.”
Chicago police told the outlet that a passenger had to be removed by US Customs and Border Patrol and the airline confirmed a passenger had to be restrained on their airline
“The safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised,” the ailrine said in a statement. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the other passengers on the flight for their understanding, in particular the individuals who had assisted our crew during the flight.”
Schaffner said his client plans on filing a lawsuit.