Irvine man claims American Airlines flight attendant charged at him, hit her nose on his palm

The criminal complaint against the 20-year-old Irvine man accused of punching a flight attendant provides a better understanding of what happened on the American Airlines plane bound for Orange County.

Brian Hsu is facing charges of interfering with a flight crew and assault within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. The charges stem from Hsu's alleged assault on Oct. 27 aboard American Airlines Flight 976, which was diverted to Denver, Colorado.

The woman who was punched said Hsu needed to use the restroom and was not happy that she asked him to return to his seat because the seatbelt sign was on and the bathroom was occupied, according to the complaint.

She said Hsu raised his arms as though he were going to stretch, but then brought his elbow down and struck her on her head.

The complaint states Hsu backed down after the flight attendant took a "defensive posture" and put her arms out in front of her, but then he charged and "struck her in the face with the closed fist of his right hand."

The flight attendant went to the hospital after landing in Denver, where she was treated with a concussion. Doctors were unable to determine if her nose was fractured due to the swelling.

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A flight from New York to Orange County was diverted after a passenger allegedly assaulted a flight attendant on Wednesday.

According to the complaint, Hsu told investigators he was returning home to California from New York after receiving brain surgery in Rhode Island, adding that he's now sensitive to sound and sometimes experiences a mental "fog," which makes thinking difficult.

Hsu said that, while stretching, he accidentally hit the flight attendant with his arm or hand and she began swinging at him with her hands. Fearing she was going to hit him in the head, he raised his hands defensively, he said. According to Hsu, the attendant then charged at him, hitting her nose on his palm.

"We are outraged by the reports of what took place on board. Acts of violence against our team members are not tolerated by American Airlines. We are working with law enforcement to support our team member and pursue prosecution, and the individual involved in this incident will not be allowed to travel with us in the future," American Airlines said in a statement following the incident.

After Hsu was taken into custody, the rest of the passengers re-boarded and the diverted flight eventually made it to John Wayne Airport.

As for Hsu, residents in the Irvine neighborhood where he lives with his parents told Eyewitness News off-camera that the family always seemed nice and quiet, and that news of the alleged assault was shocking.

Two neighbors added they barely recognize photos of a slender and short-haired Hsu in handcuffs at the airport. They said he used to have longer hair and a stronger build, but that they haven't seen him in weeks or months.

Hsu was released on $10,000 bond and is expected to appear in federal court in Denver on Nov. 15.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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