Fed-up flight attendant a free man, for now

Fired-up
flight attendant Steven Slater was walking on air as he emerged
from jail a folk hero.

“I
knew there was a brouhaha about this, but while I was on the inside I didn’t
realize how much attention it got,” said Slater, wearing the same T-shirt
and plaid shorts he had on when arrested a day earlier.

“I
think something about this resonated with people. The outpouring of support is
very appreciated. I’m overwhelmed, very thankful,” Slater said after being
released from the Vernon C. Bain Center in Hunts
Point, the Bronx,
after posting $2,500 bail.

Slater,
38, was transformed into a folk hero after he cursed out a nasty passenger over
a plane intercom, grabbed some beer and fled down an emergency slide at Kennedy Airport Sunday.

A
lot of people agree that Slater didn’t commit a crime, and that includes his
mother, his lawyer – and about half the world.

“I
can understand why he snapped. I would have snapped, too,” Diane Slater
said Tuesday after her son pleaded not guilty to criminal mischief, reckless endangerment
and trespassing charges.

“I
lost patience after a female passenger had an argument with another passenger
and then opened the bin door, hitting me on the head without apologizing,”
Slater told cops.

In
his announcement to passengers on the flight out of Pittsburgh, Slater referred to the woman as
“the f—–g a–hole that told me to f–k off.”

He
then declared, “I’ve had it. That’s it,” witnesses said.

Slater’s
Legal Aid lawyer, Howard Turman, said his client was trying to defuse a testy
situation when the passenger, who has not been identified, started giving him
hell after the plane landed.

“He
was trying to do his best in providing safety and you have rudeness and lack of
courtesy among the travelling public,” Turman said.

“The
woman was outraged and cursed him out a great deal. At that point, I think, he
just wanted to avoid conflict with her.”

Authorities
said Slater endangered JetBlue employees under the aircraft when he activated
the emergency slide, which costs more than $25,000 to replace.

JetBlue
suspended Slater even as Facebook fans began raising money for his
legal defence and demanding he get his job back.

He
has quickly become a global sensation. MySpace photos of him posing on planes –
one with a Bud Light in his hand – hit the internet.

Slater
is facing up to seven years in jail if convicted; his next court appearance is
scheduled for 7 September.

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