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Delta passenger faces federal assault charge over apparent mask dispute

A woman from Los Angeles is facing federal assault charges after she allegedly attacked a man on a Delta Air Lines flight in part over a dispute regarding masks. 

According to a criminal complaint, Patricia Cornwall was detained after the plane landed in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport from Tampa when another passenger told police he had been assaulted.

Authorities said Cornwall was returning from the restroom when flight attendants were blocking the aisle of the plane while conducting beverage service. When a flight attendant asked Cornwall to find an available seat until service was completed, Cornwall, who is white, said, “What am I, Rosa Parks?”

It was then a male passenger told Cornwall the comment was inappropriate before telling her, “Sit down, Karen.” 

A video of the alleged incident surfaced online appearing to show Cornwall slapping the male passenger across the face during an argument over mask-wearing after he called her an expletive. 

“Now you’re going to jail. That’s assault,” the man said. “You’re going to jail as soon as we get to Atlanta.”

The two continued to exchange expletives as crew members tried to contain the situation.

“I will put my mask on when you put your mask on!” Cornwall said. 

Cornwall, 51, could face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine if found guilty of the Class A misdemeanor, according to the complaint.

In a statement, the Atlanta Police Department said Cornwall’s actions led to fellow passengers and flight attendants being injured. 

“When the aircraft arrived at the gate, officers were able to meet with exiting passengers who advised that the suspect, Ms. Patricia Cornwall had caused a disturbance while in the air. This disturbance lead to the injury of fellow passengers and Delta employees,” police said. 

A federal judge set Cornwall’s bond at $20,000 but allowed her to fly home if she followed the judge’s orders, according to CNN.

Tags Atlanta Delta Air Lines Georgia unruly passengers
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