After getting forced off an airplane for asking passengers who appeared to her to be Latino whether they were drug mules, a niece of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bit, kicked and spit on Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies trying to detain her on Thanksgiving Day at Louis Armstrong International Airport, authorities said.
Shannon Epstein, 25, boarded the Spirit Airlines flight to New Jersey on Nov. 24 at about 6 a.m., and asked a family who were near her and whom she perceived to be Latino if they were “smuggling cocaine,” said Capt. Jason Rivarde, a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. Airline workers requested Epstein be removed from the plane as she became increasingly irate, and the plane, which had started to taxi to the runway, returned to the gate, Rivarde said Friday.
When deputies arrived, Epstein refused to exit the jet bridge into the terminal, Rivarde said. When they tried to arrest her, she became “extremely combative,” Rivarde said.
Six deputies hurt
In the scuffle, she injured six deputies, biting one of the arm and breaking the skin, and kicking another in the groin, Rivarde said. They were treated there by paramedics.
All the while, Epstein shouted that the deputies were going to lose their jobs or end up in jail, boasting that she was related to powerful people and that her uncle is a friend of former President Donald Trump, Rivarde said. Chris Christie did not return messages left Friday at two telephone numbers associated with him.
Seven deputies were needed to handcuff Epstein to a wheelchair, so that she could be moved to the airport security office, Rivarde said. She continued to shout vulgarities and try to bite deputies, he added.
They booked Epstein with six counts of battery on a police officer, three of disturbing the peace, one of resisting arrest by force and one of remaining after forbidden, Rivarde said. She paid $10,750 bail and was released from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center later on Thanksgiving Day.
Epstein is scheduled to return to Jefferson Parish for court on Jan. 23, although Rivarde said most airline-related cases move to federal court.