CHICAGO --The passenger dragged from a United flight lost two front teeth and suffered a broken nose and a concussion, one of his lawyers said Thursday, accusing the airline industry of having "bullied" its customers for far too long.
"Are we going to continue to be treated like cattle?" attorney Thomas Demetrio asked.
The passenger, Dr. David Dao, has been released from a hospital but will need reconstructive surgery, Demetrio said at a news conference, appearing alongside one of Dao's children. Dao was not there.
The 69-year-old physician from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, was forcibly removed by police from a plane Sunday at Chicago's O'Hare Airport after refusing to give up his seat on the full flight to make room for four airline employees.
Related: Did United Airlines have the right to forcibly remove the passenger?
Cellphone video of him being pulled down the aisle by his arms and footage of his bloody face have created a public-relations nightmare for United.
One of Dao's five children, Crystal Pepper, said the family was "horrified, shocked and sickened" by what happened. She said it was made worse by the fact that it was caught on video.
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Demetrio, who indicated Dao is going to sue, said the industry has long "bullied" passengers by overbooking flights and then bumping people, and "it took something like this to get a conversation going."
"I hope he becomes a poster child for all of us. Someone's got to," the lawyer said.
Early on, United CEO Oscar Munoz added to the furor when he apologized for the incident but accused Dao of being belligerent. Later, Munoz offered a more emphatic mea culpa, saying, "No one should ever be mistreated this way."
He promised to review the airline's policies to make sure something like that never happens again, and said United will no longer use police to remove bumped passengers. The airline also said all passengers on the flight would get a refund.
In a statement issued immediately after Thursday's news conference, United insisted that Munoz and the airline called Dao numerous times to apologize. Munoz himself said on Wednesday that he had left a message for Dao. But Demetrio said neither Dao nor his family had heard from United.
Here is the statement United Airlines posted on its website Thursday following the news conference:
We continue to express our sincerest apology to Dr. Dao. We cannot stress enough that we remain steadfast in our commitment to make this right.
This horrible situation has provided a harsh learning experience from which we will take immediate, concrete action. We have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what's broken so this never happens again.
First, we are committing that United will not ask law enforcement officers to remove passengers from our flights unless it is a matter of safety and security. Second, we've started a thorough review of policies that govern crew movement, incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. Third, we will fully review and improve our training programs to ensure our employees are prepared and empowered to put our customers first. Our values - not just systems - will guide everything we do. We'll communicate the results of our review and the actions we will take by April 30.
United CEO Oscar Munoz and the company called Dr. Dao on numerous occasions to express our heartfelt and deepest apologies.