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Woman injures 6 deputies while being removed from Spirit airlines flight, claims she is Chris Christie’s niece

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Julia Marnin

The Charlotte Observer

A woman was kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight headed to New Jersey after asking a family, who she believed was Latino, if they were “smuggling cocaine” on Thanksgiving morning, according to authorities in Louisiana.

When deputies arrived to arrest Shannon Epstein along a jet bridge around 6 a.m. at Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, the woman became “extremely combative” and attacked them, Capt. Jason Rivarde of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office told McClatchy News in a statement on Dec. 5. Six deputies suffered injuries during the attack, Rivarde said.

At the time, Epstein “repeatedly claimed” to be former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s niece, Rivarde said. She told the deputies arresting her that “they would lose their jobs or be arrested because of her familial relationships.”

Epstein was arrested and faces charges including multiple counts of battery on a police officer, resisting a police officer with force and remaining after being forbidden, according to Rivarde. One deputy was bitten by the woman and another was “kicked in the groin.”

Her attack on deputies ended when she was “eventually secured in a wheelchair” and wheeled away, Rivarde added.

McClatchy News contacted Spirit Airlines for comment on Dec. 5 and was awaiting a response.

The Times-Picayune reports that Epstein, 25, declared her uncle is friends with former President Donald Trump during the arrest.

McClatchy News attempted to reach Christie for comment on Dec. 5 and was awaiting a response.

When asked about the potential relationship between Epstein and Christie, Rivarde told McClatchy News that “we did not attempt to verify her claim as it was not germane to her arrest.”

Epstein posted bond after her arrest and was released, according to Rivarde.

She is due in court on Jan. 23, according to The Times-Picayune.

Christie ran for president as a Republican in 2016. He was New Jersey’s governor from 2010-2018.

©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Visit charlotteobserver.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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