Butte native and former Navy Seal Rob O’Neill was asked to leave an American Airlines flight Sunday before it left from Nashville because he had been drinking, but he was not combative, a representative of O’Neill’s told The Montana Standard on Monday.
TMZ reported earlier Monday that O’Neill was kicked off the plane for being too drunk to fly. He boarded the plane bound for Dallas but witnesses said he was noticeably drunk and began yelling "vile slurs" at a flight attendant before passing out, TMZ reported Monday.
The TMZ story said when he came to, he was told he was too drunk to fly and was ordered off the plane. He became belligerent and eventually police arrived and ordered him off the plane, TMZ said.
When asked to comment on the report, Kris Kelly, O'Neill's assistant, sent the Standard an email saying “the truth has been stretched a bit, which sometimes happens.”
“Rob and his wife were leaving Nashville after spending the weekend with friends, and yes, he had consumed a few alcoholic beverages,” Kelly said in the email. “When he got into the plane, he sat down and fell asleep.
“His wife, who was getting onto a different flight, realized she had his phone and ran to his gate to get it to him. The airline worker who brought his phone to him must have realized that Rob had been drinking, told him he needed to get off the plane, and Rob complied.
“Jess (O'Neill's wife) was surprised that he was being removed from the plane as he came back down the jetway (they were going to different places), as he was not combative at all. There was no negative interaction with any flight attendants or airline staff, other than the obvious getting removed!”
O’Neill was arrested for DUI in Butte on April 8, 2016 after police found him asleep at the wheel of his running car at a Town Pump on South Montana Street around 2:30 a.m. He failed a sobriety test and refused a Breathalyzer.
He told police he had one drink and then said he may have taken Ambien, a prescribed sleeping aid drug. He later said he took a sleeping aid to help with long-standing, severe insomnia and while he regretted the decision, he was innocent of the charge.
The Butte-Silver Bow County Attorney's office dropped the DUI charge against O’Neill in October 2016, amending it to a misdemeanor charge of negligent endangerment.
Prosecutors agreed to defer the amended charge for 12 months if O’Neill underwent treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs for issues that led to his arrest.
O'Neill said in 2014 that he was the SEAL Team Six member who shot Osama bin Laden dead in a May 2, 2011, raid, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.