Details have come to light about the personal history of David Dao, the physician who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday and became the center of a PR nightmare for the airline over his violent treatment by airport security officials.
As many on social media have noted, the security officials involved with Dao’s violent removal from the plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport could not have known details of his personal history — nor do they have direct bearing on the circumstances of his treatment.
But according to Louisville, Kentucky’s Courier-Journal, Dao went to medical school in Vietnam in the 1970s before moving to the U.S., where he started working as a pulmonologist in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
In 2003, he was arrested and eventually convicted of prescription drug-related charges, according to the Courier-Journal. He was also convicted of several felony charges of obtaining prescription painkillers by fraud or deceit in November 2004 and was placed on five years of supervised probation in January 2005, surrendering his medical license the next month. He was, however, permitted to resume practicing in 2015 under certain conditions.
Last June, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure approved Dao to practice internal medicine through “onsite consultation.”
In 2005, the Associated Press reported that Dao faced 98 charges of illegally prescribing and trafficking prescription painkillers. Prosecutors alleged that Dao and a co-defendant, Brian D. Case, fraudulently filled prescriptions at various pharmacies for narcotic drugs like hydrocodone, Oxycontin and Percocet. He faced 20 years in prison.
At the same time, he was appealing a conviction in Louisville on charges of writing prescriptions and checks to a patient in exchange for sex. Dao was acquitted of seven other counts of obtaining drugs through fraud and a trafficking charge.
TMZ also reported that Dao made $117,000 in 2009 at a poker tournament.
Video of the now-infamous removal from a United flight shows security agents dragging the screaming passenger from his seat as other passengers look on in shock. In a statement, United tried to stress that the men who dragged the passenger did not work for United.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said an officer had been placed on leave and that the dragging “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”
A few hours after the incident first surfaced on social media, United CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement: “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened.”
Later footage showed Dao bloody and disoriented as he repeated “just kill me.”