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Man charged with assault after choking a woman for reclining her seat on an airplane

Lawrence Wells, 54, faces up to 10 years in prison.

Image: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

A CALIFORNIA MAN has been charged with assault for allegedly punching and choking a woman after she reclined her seat on a flight.

Lawrence Wells, 54, of Richmond, California faces up to 10 years in prison over the 18 October incident that took place on board a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

According to the indictment, Wells assaulted the victim, identified only by her initials M.D, choking her and punching her in the head with a closed fist shortly after the plane took off.

The incident happened on Sunday 18 October, when the plane was made to return departure gate because of a passenger disturbance.

“Approximately 10 minutes after the flight left the ground, the captain of the aircraft declared an emergency landing and returned to Los Angeles International Airport where law enforcement … responded to investigate the assault allegation,” the FBI said in a statement.

An FBI spokeswoman said the victim suffered a concussion.

Witnesses say Wells became upset after the woman put her seat back.

It was reported that the other 136 passengers on the flight continued their journey after the incident was resolved.

Comments on this article have been turned off as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

- © AFP, 2015

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