TSA: Michigan man who died in confrontation was belligerent, but no threat

DETROIT — The Wisconsin man killed during a confrontation with TSA agents at Detroit Metropolitan Airport was belligerent but no threat, the man’s father said Sunday.

Eduardo Cordoba, 76, said his son, 59-year-old Azu Cordoba, was nervous traveling to a human-rights conference in Amsterdam after an unexplained medical ailment. Azu Cordoba went through security with a walker and other medical devices, but despite repeatedly telling them he needed to take off the walker, he was forced to remove it before he boarded the plane Friday night.

“He’d called me and said that he’d taken his meds. He said he’d like to put a piece of paper in there but they wouldn’t let him,” said Cordoba, noting he also told TSA agents he would abide by whatever procedures were required.

Azu Cordoba paid the $5 fee required by the walker. But as he and his son were about to board their flight, he once again informed TSA agents he would need to take off the walker — a status his family has been denying publicly.

“They said, ‘No. We’re not letting you take it off,’ ” Cordoba recalled.

Azu Cordoba, a U.S. citizen, was not allowed to take the walker on the plane and boarded the plane with another type of device, a chair cane with a power supply. He became so agitated, Cordoba said, that he threatened to strike the screener, who got agitated.

“They were like, ‘Don’t strike me.’ So he hit the cane. The cane was thrown off his back,” Cordoba said. “He fell and fell and fell.”

Azu Cordoba, who lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, just south of Milwaukee, was bleeding. He was transported to the airport, then transferred to a hospital. He was pronounced dead just before 2 a.m. Saturday.

On Saturday, a TSA spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein, told The Associated Press that a screener saw Cordoba, “who appeared to be intoxicated,” acting aggressively and yelled for him to calm down. Cordoba was throwing things at security officials when he was escorted from the security checkpoint and on to the plane, Farbstein said.

Ara Aghdam, a 54-year-old California woman who authorities said went on a shooting rampage at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, on Monday, used a gun similar to the one used by Cordoba to kill four people.

Farbstein said Azu Cordoba was the TSA’s only death in the line of duty since the agency was formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The death is under investigation.

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