John Christina, 51, of Simsbury, CT, says the incident was a joke. But the TSA says it is no laughing matter.
“TSOs (Transportation Security Officers) are on the front line defending the nation against terrorism every day and violence against them is shameful,” TSA Press Secretary Nicholas Kimball tells AOL Travel News. “We are working with law enforcement to make sure appropriate action is taken.”
Christina, a computer consultant, admitted to punching the officer. He was arrested, spent the night in jail and was released on $150 bond, with a superior court date set for Dec. 13
“If I had hit him with any malice or intent that would have been one thing. That was not my intention,” Christina tells the Indianapolis Star newspaper.
Because he has health issues, including two metal hip implants that can set off metal detectors, Christina says he is used to spending extra time in security lines.
A law enforcement source says the punch came after Christina asked TSA agent Gregory Hutman, 28, a question he couldn’t answer. Hutman is usually based in Dayton, Ohio, and was in Indianapolis for training.
“When he (the officer) didn’t know the answer to a question the guy punched him,” the source says.
The question was reportedly about increased security procedures.
Christina allegedly jabbed Hutman with a closed fist. A police report quotes Hutman as asking, “Why did you have to hit me?” And Christina saying, “I was only kidding with you.”
Other passengers and TSA agents witnessed the incident.
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, says the TSA needs to do a better job letting the public know about new security procedures to avoid such attacks.