A fight onboard a Spirit Airlines flight on Monday was caught on camera after passengers became violent over the airline’s mask requirement.
A woman, who was reportedly the aggressor, was ultimately tased by police and removed from the flight. The fight occurred just as the plane, which originated in Newark, New Jersey, landed at Luis Munoz Marin airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The woman who was tased, Nyasy Veronique Payne, reportedly displayed what can only be described, in 2020, as starkly Karen-esque behavior. Her belligerent refusal to wear a mask in the midst of a pandemic ultimately led to the fight but was far from the only cause.
According to CBS News Lead National Correspondent David Begnaud, police say Payne "provoked an incident by acting in what witnesses called an aggressive, hostile, & defiant behavior." After reportedly refusing to adhere to the airline's mask requirements, Payne struck 28-year-old Javier Lopez Cruz.
Begnaud initially made it clear that Payne threw the first punch after refusing to wear a mask. She was ultimately tased and removed by police. Later witness statements expanded on this, however, revealing that Payne may have had more cause than initially known.
Speaking with a witness who gave the name Alfredo, Begnaud discovered that Payne did not actually initiate the violence. Alfredo, who can be seen in the video in a deep purple T-shirt, told Begnaud that a man punched Payne before the fight seen on camera began. Payne responded by throwing what was then reported as the first punch.
According to Alfredo, the man had been a nuisance the entire flight. He reportedly spent most of the plane ride "moving about the plane, switching seats and not wearing a mask." Flight attendants instructed the man to stay seated with his mask in place, but he refused to comply. This prompted them to call the police when the flight landed in Puerto Rico.
Alfredo also noted three women, of whom Payne is one, moving about the flight and refusing to follow mask requirements. Flight attendants also attempted to instruct these women to follow basic flight and safety guidelines, but they likewise refused. By the time the flight landed, their fellow passengers were thoroughly worked up.
Once the plane was grounded, three men reportedly began hurling racist and homophobic slurs at the women, who are Black. One of the men ultimately chose to get physical, starting the fight seen on the video. After he struck Payne, she became hostile and the fight broke out.
Ultimately, Payne was arrested by police and removed from the plane. She was, as reported by Telemundo reporter Marjorie Ramírez, expected to spend the night in jail. Police are reportedly considering charges.
The video, on its own, tells a starkly different story than the one unpacked by Begnaud. Without the additional context, it would appear that Payne is nothing more than an entitled, antagonistic Karen who believes the rules do not apply to her. While witness statements make it clear that Payne was certainly not in the right, the aggression she experienced prior to the fight gave her far more cause than initially realized.
Every domestic airline requires facial coverings for the entire duration of a flight. Spirit Airlines boasts some of the strictest face mask requirements of any airline, with absolutely no exemptions allowed for anyone other than infants.
We've reached out to Begnaud and Spirit Airlines.
Mask up: Read more to stay safe
H/T Daily Mail