Flier who caused melee reaches deal

An Atascadero man who allegedly went on a drunken rampage after missing his United Airlines flight — accosting an airline employee, brawling with police officers and hurling bomb threats — faces a maximum six months in county jail, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Joel Elliott Decou, 25, pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges of felony assault on a police officer for the Sept. 8 incident. The alleged rampage occurred in front of a United Airlines boarding gate at San Francisco International Airport, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Decou, who police say was “heavily intoxicated,” says he has no recollection of the night he became unglued at the airport, Wagstaffe said.

Decou missed his first scheduled flight, was rebooked onto a later flight and showed up at the United boarding gate extremely drunk, Wagstaffe said. Then, in one sudden instant, Decou shouted a bomb threat to an airline employee and attacked another, putting the worker into a headlock, Wagstaffe said.

“No one knew why he did this, it was just out of the blue,” Wagstaffe said. “That was the part that was stunning.”

A San Francisco police officer assigned to patrol the airport arrived soon after, prompting Decou to release the airline employee. But Decou picked up a 30-gallon trash can and hurled it at the officer, Wagstaffe said. The 6-foot, 220-pound Decou then reportedly began fighting with the female officer until another officer arrived. It took both police officers and several helpful citizens to finally subdue him, Wagstaffe said.

Later that night, while in custody, Decou told police he did not remember any of what happened at the airport. He faces a maximum six-month prison term as a condition of his plea deal, Wagstaffe said. A judge says his sentence can be served in a residential alcohol-treatment program rather than a jail cell, Wagstaffe said.

“He obviously has an alcohol problem,” Wagstaffe said. “Now he is a felon in addition to that alcohol problem.”

Sentencing for Decou is set for July 30 before Judge Clifford Cretan, Wagstaffe said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read