Black Man Arrested, Put in Straight-Jacket for Wearing Saggy Pants at Airport

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - A young black man claims in court that U.S. Airways had him arrested and put in a straitjacket for wearing saggy pants that showed his underwear, but not "any inappropriate parts of his anatomy."

Deshon Marman sued the airline; 10 of its John and Jane Doe employees, including the pilot; the City and County of San Francisco and its police Officer Calvin Tom, in Federal Court.

Marmon, a former University of New Mexico football player, was 20 when he was arrested and straitjacketed. He claims the airline's racial animus is obvious, as only days before it had allowed a middle-aged white man to fly dressed in a bra and panties. (See below.)

"The plaintiff, Deshon Marman, is a young African-American male," he says in the complaint. "On the morning of June 15, 2011, Mr. Marman was attempting to board U.S. Airways flight no. 488 so that he could return to college at New Mexico State University. Mr. Marman had briefly returned from New Mexico to the Bay Area to attend the funeral of a close friend. His friend's death was a shock, and Mr. Marman was deeply saddened and emotionally drained when he attempted to board the plane.

"When Mr. Marman approached the gate, the U.S. Airways employee assigned to collect boarding passes loudly and unpleasantly ordered him to pull up his pants. Mr. Marman was dressed in the style common of youth today, which is to say that he was not revealing any inappropriate parts of his anatomy, the top of his underwear were visible above his loose-fitting pants. Although Mr. Marman was carrying his luggage, he did the best he could to comply with the U.S. Airways employee's orders while he maneuvered his luggage to the seat and sat down.

"While this should have ended the matter, for some inexplicable reason, the U.S. Airways employees remained unappeased. Despite the fact that plaintiff was not sitting in his seat and his pants clearly were at the height demanded by the initial employee, other airline employees began accosting Mr. Marman. This culminated in the pilot, who is Caucasian, coming to the seat and demanding that Mr. Marman (who was sitting quietly and not causing any disturbance) depart the plane.

"Mr. Marman demurred. He stated that he had done nothing wrong and was resolute to remain on the flight, as he had already missed an earlier flight. Moreover, he did not want to risk missing more classes at his university. Any issue concerning how high or low his pants were riding on his hips that day was mooted by the fact that he had pulled them up, and was now seated.

"Inexplicably, the pilot ordered the other passengers off the plane. A plain-clothes deputy from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department then appeared. This deputy told Mr. Marman that officers were required to enforce a pilot's demand, however groundless or unreasonable the demand. The deputy promised plaintiff that if he would leave the plane, he (the deputy) would make sure Mr. Marman would get on the next flight back to Albuquerque. Although Mr. Marman felt this was unfair, he agreed to get off the plane.

"As soon as Mr. Marman reached the tunnel outside the plane, the initial deputy disappeared and several officers jumped on the plaintiff, took him to the floor, and put him in full body restraints. These restraints (which are meant for use only on persons who are being physically violent) consisted of a two-part 'straitjacket' and were extremely uncomfortable and humiliating. The officers then transported Mr. Marman to jail."

Marman spent the night in San Mateo County Jail and his family bailed him out the next day. "No charges were filed by the District Attorney's Office," he says.

Video of Marman being kicked off the plane, filmed by another passenger, is posted onYouTube . Marman remains seated and addressed the pilot as "Sir" throughout.

Marman says in the complaint: "The brutal retribution by all involved - solicited by the U.S. Airways pilot, and clearly based on the victim's race - was meted out to an innocent and unoffending young African-American man."

Marman says there is proof of this: "Just days before, the news reported that a middle-aged white man had boarded and taken a US Airways flight over the protest of several fellow passengers. Apparently, he was dressed only in women's panties and brassiere, a sheer shift over his shoulders, and shoes. An airline spokeswoman said at the time that it had 'no dress code.' This clearly demonstrates that the objections raised about the plaintiff's attire were not based on policy or airline regulations." 

Marman, a star defensive back in high school, transferred to New Mexico from City College of San Francisco, which he led to back-to-back conference championships and a berth in the junior college national championship game.

He claims his unjustified arrested disrupted his college career.

"The matter burst into the news locally and elsewhere, and carried back to the campus in New Mexico, where his notoriety soon disrupted his studies and participation in the school's athletic program," the complaint states. 

Marman transferred to a college in San Francisco.

He seeks punitive damages for racial discrimination, unlawful arrest and battery.

He is represented by Dennis Cunningham, of San Francisco, and Gerald Singleton, of Encinitas.


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