The identity of the man who made headlines after a video of him being violently dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight has been revealed
Videos of the incident went viral after the man was removed from what was initially said to be an overbooked flight by United Airlines. He could be heard screaming and frantically saying that he needed to go home to Louisville to see his patients.
The incident happened at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Sunday. The fiasco even reached the White House as Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary had described the footage as "troubling".
Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, issued a public apology saying that he "apologized for having to accommodate these customers". However, he defended the move in private email to his staff, calling Dr Dao "disruptive and belligerent", and praised his staff for going "above and beyond".
Following heavy criticism from the masses about his public apology and email, he released a third statement, finally apologising for the forced removal of Dr Dao, calling the incident "truly horrific".
"I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right," explained Munoz, saying that they will come up with a full review of the incident by 30 April, as reported by CNN yesterday.
The violent episode has put the passenger in question into the spotlight. He has been identified as Dr David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American who specialises in internal medicine.
Daily Mail reported that Dr Dao is a father of five and practices in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, which is about 40 miles south of Louisville. His wife, 69-year-old Teresa is a pediatrician who also practices in the same town. She was trained at the Ho Chi Minh University in Saigon, Vietnam.
Four of his five children are doctors. His eldest son, 34-year-old Tim practices in Texas, his daughter Christine, 33, is a doctor in Durham, North Carolina, his second son Ben, 31, is a medical graduate, and his youngest child Angela, 27, is a medical graduate of the University of Kentucky. Christine's twin, Crystal lives in Barrington, Illinois.
According to British daily, The Telegraph, Dr Dao came to the US as a refugee, when he was forced to flee while studying at a medical school in Vietnam. He completed his medical training in California.
Following that, he had apparently moved to Indiana in 1980 and worked at a prison in Michigan City for a year. He quit the job because an inmate reportedly tried to strangle him with his own stethoscope.
He then moved to Kentucky, where he had several run-ins with the law in the subsequent years
The Telegraph report also said that in the year 2003, Dr Dao was charged on multiple counts for prescribing and trafficking prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone, Oxycontin, and Percocet by fraud and deceit.
There was also a criminal complaint against Dr Dao, that said he had solicited homosexual relations with a male patient in exchange for a prescription for hydrocodone.
Dr Dao was convicted in November 2004 on six counts, and he was given a suspended sentence of two years, eight months in prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of USD5,000 (approximately RM22,000).
His medical licence was suspended in 2003 and partially reinstated in 2015. Daily Mail reported that Dr Dao used to work at Hardin Memorial in Elizabethtown and he currently owns a medical practice in the same town.
After he was barred from practicing medicine, TMZ reported that Dr Dao started playing poker professionally, joining the circuit in 2006
He even competed in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) events and came second in one of the tournaments in 2009, winning USD117,000 (approximately RM519,000). According to info on WSOP's website, Dr Dao's total earnings during his time on the felt came up to about USD234,664 (approximately RM1 million)
Just hours after news of Dr Dao's "dark past" was first published by Courier-Journal, a Louisville-based newspaper, journalists started to question the relevance of revealing the man's detailed past, which included his criminal records
They said that Dr Dao's past is irrelevant to the incident, adding that he is a victim of an assault and not a public figure.
However, Joel Christopher, the editor of Courier-Journal, a Louisville news site defended the move to publish details of Dr Dao's past to BuzzFeed News.
"This is an individual, who because of his past case, is known to people in the area. Referring to him without referring to [his past] would be highly unusual," he explained, saying that "the national audience, without context, was jumping to an incorrect conclusion."
He also said that the story made sense within the local context but a large set of audience came from outside of the local market.
"A national audience would not have the same background and context," added Christopher.
Agreeing with Christopher, Al Tompkins, the Poynter Institute's senior faculty for broadcasting and online, said that the revelation about Dr Dao's past is relevant to Courier-Journal's readers
In an article by Poynter, Tompkins explained that Dr Dao's criminal misconducts have made headlines previously. Thus, Courier-Journal's readers may wonder "if the convicted physician in their community was the same guy making worldwide news".
He cited the Associated Press (AP), which reported in 2005, that Dr Dao was facing 98 charges for illegally prescribing and trafficking prescription painkillers, among other criminal charges.
According to his newly hired lawyers, Dr Dao is still "undergoing treatment in a Chicago hospital for his injuries".
Dr Dao has since hired Stephen Golan, a corporate law specialist and Thomas Demetrio, a personal injury specialist, indicating that United Airlines may be facing a hefty lawsuit.