Passenger speaks to Local 10 after NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. escorted off airplane at Miami International Airport

Beckham’s attorney releases statement, criticizing American Airlines employees

MIAMI – Popular NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. was escorted off a plane at Miami International Airport by police officers on Sunday morning.

According to authorities, Miami-Dade police officers were dispatched to a medical emergency aboard an American Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles at approximately 9:30 a.m.

“The term used over the intercom was, ‘We have an issue with a passenger. We have to return back to the gate,’” passenger Carlos Gauna told Local 10 News. “We did see an ambulance show up, we did see paramedics board the airplane.”

The flight crew told officers they were concerned for Beckham’s safety after they attempted to wake him in order for him to fasten his seat belt, police said.

Flight crew members asked Beckham several times to leave the plane, police said, but he refused and as a result, the aircraft was deplaned.

“There was absolutely no noise coming from the first class cabin,” Gauna said. “It was, like I said, very uncharacteristically quiet in the airplane.”

Authorities said after that, Beckham exited the plane without incident.

He was then escorted by officers to a non-secure area of the terminal, where Beckham made other travel arrangements, police said.

“The whole ordeal delayed us two and a half hours,” Gauna said.

Beckham sent out several tweets Sunday morning, seemingly referencing the incident on the plane.

Local 10 News reached out to American Airlines, which responded with the following statement:

“American Airlines flight 1228, with service from Miami (MIA) to Los Angeles (LAX), returned to the gate before takeoff due to a customer failing to follow crew member instructions and refusing to fasten their seatbelt. The customer was removed and the flight re-departed at 10:54 a.m. local time.”

Additionally, Daniel Davillier, an attorney for Beckham, sent a statement to ABC News in regard to the incident. It read:

“Earlier today, Odell Beckham Jr boarded a morning flight in Miami without any problems. The flight was delayed after boarding and prior to take off Mr. Beckham fell asleep with his blanket over his head, which is his normal practice for long flights. He was awakened and told that the plane was back at the gate and that he needed to get off the plane because he did not put his seatbelt on when asked. He responded that he was asleep, and that he would put his seatbelt on at that time. He was informed that it was too late, and that either he would have to get off the plane or everyone would have to deplane.

“The overzealous flight attendant refused to simply allow Mr. Beckham to fasten his seatbelt and proceed with the flight and instead immediately removed everyone from the plane. At no time was Mr Beckham disruptive or combative. He was willing to comply with the seatbelt requirement, but the flight attendant wanted to prove that he had the authority to have Mr. Beckham removed from the flight. The airline proceeded to send Mr. Beckham’s luggage to Los Angeles without him.

“This incident was completely unnecessary. Sleeping on a plane should not be a cause for removal from a flight. If they could wake him up when the flight returned to the gate, then they could have done the same thing and woken him up to ask him to put on his seatbelt.”

Beckham has not played in the NFL since last season’s Super Bowl, where he suffered a torn ACL during the second quarter while playing for the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams.

He has been nearing a return from the injury and is considering signing with several teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Beckham was not detained or charged by police, and officers did not indicate any investigation was being conducted into the incident on the airplane.

Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Wilson Louis contributed to this story.

About the Authors:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.