Does the Stress of Travel Really Cause People to Behave Differently — Enough to Bite a Police Officer?

Traveling is arguably not for the squeamish, as so many factors can contribute to the stress experienced with it: delays or cancellations of flights, tight connections, crowds, long lines, a plethora of rules and restrictions, rude people, and disputes over such items as armrests, reclined seats, window shades aboard airplanes, seat swapping, emotional support animals, obese passengers, people with allergies, space for storing items in overhead storage bins, smokers, gender neutrality, and the fear of nefarious people who want to disrupt our lives with committing acts of terror as only 17 of countless issues which barrage people who travel via airplane…

Does the Stress of Travel Really Cause People to Behave Differently — Enough to Bite a Police Officer?

Police officer in Buenos Aires Argentina

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

…but can all that stress of travel be enough for someone to behave differently — even to the point of biting a law enforcement officer?

Apparently so, if you believe Keith Martin — who is the former solicitor for Clayton County in Georgia, where part of the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area is located — as he has prosecuted numerous cases of professionals who he says acted differently at the airport: “The stress of travel always seems to be the one continuous factor.”

The people Martin had prosecuted included “a former district attorney, a former congressional candidate, a former assistant district attorney, a deputy police chief, a physician that operated on a former mayor of Atlanta and a former Atlanta police chief, a partner in a Big 8 accounting firm. All arrested, all behaved differently in that stressful situation, and I believe that travel has so much to do with it.”

Morse Diggs — who is a reporter with WAGA-TV Fox 5 News in Atlanta — interviewed Martin for a story in which a supposed beauty contestant inexplicably behaved erratically at the airport at approximately 3:55 in the afternoon on Thursday, November 28, 2019, which was Thanksgiving Day. Martin was not familiar with the specifics of the incident in which the woman eventually allegedly bit one of the law enforcement officers through his jacket, causing his arm to bleed.

Atlanta airport

Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

According to an official report from the Atlanta Police Department, the young woman — who was one of thousands of travelers who were navigating through the airport during that busy holiday weekend — reportedly told law enforcement officers, “You damn right I bit that officer.”

As the woman — who wore a red dress with a sash and high heeled shoes — ascended up the arrival escalator at the airport, other passengers reported that she had been screaming and throwing things. At one point, she attempted to avoid the law enforcement officers by going into a public washroom for women — but her erratic behavior continued.

Video from the body camera of one of the law enforcement officers revealed that he attempted to deescalate the situation. “Let’s talk. What’s wrong?” he asked her in a concerned manner — but instead of responding, she momentarily sighed while darting her eyes in different directions and stuttered something unintelligible before darting off away from the law enforcement officer and eventually sprinted faster until fully running away.

The way she allegedly continued to behave concerned police officers that she could possibly adversely affect other passengers. She was arrested — but the biting incident occurred as officers tried to walk her to the precinct. They eventually arrived at the precinct where she was processed, but how long she was confined at the jail of the office of the sheriff of Clayton County remains unclear.

Although portions of the video from the body camera of the police officer was broadcast on local television in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, the complete video of the volatile incident has not been released at this time — and the video of the news report is still not available via the Internet at the time this article was written.

The Instagram account of the suspect — in which she was declared to be Miss GA North USA 2020 — has since been deactivated. She is listed as one of the 47 contestants for Miss Georgia USA in 2019.

Law enforcement officers were never able to figure out what was bothering her on that day.


Lisbon Airport

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Like many people, I could do without some of the stress experienced by traveling — but I find that I actually thrive on some of the stresses one experiences while traveling. For example, I feel a rush of excitement knowing that I have someplace somewhere in the world to go and that the airplane is about to leave within the next hour — especially when I am traveling to someplace to which I have never been before.

In my unscientific opinion, I would think that people who travel infrequently and who simply do not like travel in general would experience the most stress — especially when phobias are involved and the rules and restrictions involved with travel seem unnecessary, superfluous or illogical.

I am currently working on an article which will give tips and advice on how to reduce stress while traveling; and once it is completed, I intend to post a link to that article in this article.

All photographs ©2005, ©2010 and ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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