Man Who Allegedly Punched Flight Attendant Says He Can't Make a Fist

Brian Hsu has been charged in American Airlines incident
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2021 12:08 AM CDT
Updated Nov 2, 2021 6:31 AM CDT
Man Who Allegedly Punched Flight Attendant Says He Can't Make a Fist
An American Airlines aircraft flying over Gloster City, N.J., approaches Philadelphia International Airport Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The man charged with assaulting an American Airlines flight attendant last month is claiming self-defense. Brian Hsu of Irvine, Calif., was returning home after brain surgery, which the 20-year-old says he needed after being assaulted last year in New York City and suffering a brain injury. Hsu told FBI investigators he accidentally bumped into the flight attendant on the Oct. 27 flight and she responded by swinging her arms at him and then rushed him, according to the Dallas News. He says, per court documents, that he was frightened "because an impact to his head in its current state could cause him severe injury or death."

As she "charged at him," according to an affidavit cited by Reuters, she "hit her nose against the palm of his right hand," which was raised in a defensive position, Hsu said. However, the flight attendant told investigators she had asked Hsu, who was standing near the lavatory, to return to his seat because the fasten seatbelt sign was on when he "raised his arms as though he were going to stretch, but then brought his elbow down and struck the victim on the head" before punching her again. (Contrary to initial reports, there is no indication face masks were an issue.) She was hospitalized overnight and suffered a fractured nose and a concussion, KTLA reports.

Witnesses said they saw the flight attendant possibly "jump" in front of Hsu as he stood near the lavatory before seeing Hsu strike the flight attendant in a way that seemed "practiced or trained," so hard that her head hit the lavatory door. Hsu also says he was in a "mental fog" after his surgery, and that he suffered psychological issues due to his brain injury and had been told he was "quick to anger" afterwards. Lastly, in a claim corroborated by his mother, he said he can't even form a fist currently due to a finger injury he recently suffered. At his first court appearance, the judge ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and return to court for a hearing Nov. 15. He is charged with assault as well as interfering with a flight crew. (Read more American Airlines stories.)

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