Do You Know Who Chris Christie’s Niece Is?
It was 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and 25-year-old Shannon Epstein had boarded a Spirit Airlines flight from New Orleans to New Jersey. She assumed the family seated near her were Latino, so she asked them if they were “smuggling cocaine,” which as icebreakers go was incredibly racist. Also, discretion is probably a key part of the drug mule game. You don’t blab your business to some random asshole on your flight.
This family wasn’t in fact “smuggling cocaine” on Thanksgiving, and our racist Nancy Drew just grew angrier and more disruptive. According to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jason Rivarde, airline workers decided to remove Epstein from the plane, which had already started to taxi to the runway. You can imagine how pissed the passengers were when Epstein’s tantrum caused the plane to return to the gate.
Epstein refused to leave the plane, and when deputies approached her, she became what Rivarde describes as “extremely combative.”
In the scuffle, she injured six deputies, biting one on the arm and breaking the skin, and kicking another in the groin, Rivarde said. They were treated there by paramedics.
Wow, that was a beatdown! And no one even asked her to wear a mask.
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Here’s the big twist in the story: While Epstein was whooping the cops’ asses, she insisted they were the ones in for a world of pain. They would lose their jobs or even wind up in jail, perhaps for bruising her kicking foot with their groin. She boasted that she knew powerful people: She’s Chris Christie’s niece, damnit! And he’s friends with former president and coup plotter Donald Trump. (“Friend” is not how I’d describe someone who callously exposed her uncle to COVID-19, for which he was hospitalized.)
Christie is the former governor of New Jersey, so we’re not sure how much actual “power” he wields in New Orleans or even New Jersey, where he left office with a 14 percent approval rating. Christie himself has remained unavailable for comment.
Seven deputies were needed to handcuff Epstein to a wheelchair and forcibly transport her to the airport security office. Just a note here as the father of a disabled child: Airlines can barely provide wheelchairs in a timely fashion for the passengers who request them in advance. They don’t typically have wheelchairs reserved for violent assholes.
“Throughout her entire interaction with deputies, she repeatedly stated that they would lose their jobs or be arrested because of her familial relationships,” Rivarde told the New York Post.
During her ride to airport security, Epstein continued to shout obscenities and spit on the deputies. She also tried to bite them. She was booked with six counts of battery on a police officer, three of disturbing the peace, one of resisting arrest by force and one of remaining (on the airplane) after forbidden. That last charge is brutal: "You wouldn’t leave after we told you to get the fuck out.”
Epstein posted $10,750 bail and was released from the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center later on Thanksgiving Day. It’s unclear if she had a lively exchange with other incarcerated people and learned the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Her court date is scheduled for January 23.
None of the reporting on this incident suggests that Epstein was intoxicated or otherwise impaired. She may just be a terrible person. That’s not much of a defense, no matter who your uncle is.
[NOLA / New York Post]
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."