Off-duty pilot charged with 83 counts of attempted murder says he had taken psychedelic mushrooms

Off-duty pilot charged with 83 counts of attempted murder says he had taken psychedelic mushrooms

The off-duty pilot who attempted to shut off the engines of an Alaska Airlines flight has told investigators he had consumed psychedelic mushrooms about 48 hours before boarding and had been sleepless and dehydrated ever since. He also said he had been depressed for a long time, according to legal documents.

The accused, Joseph Emerson told police he was having a “nervous breakdown” following his arrest. He said he had been struggling with depression for six years, but things had become worse since the recent death of a friend.

Emerson “talked about the use of psychedelic mushrooms, and said it was his first time taking mushrooms,” federal documents said. 

He said he “didn’t feel OK” while in the cockpit, and that “it seemed like the pilots weren’t paying attention to what was going on.”

“I pulled both emergency shut-off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up,” he told police.

He has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder and one count of endangering an aircraft.

A lawyer has entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.

“Joseph Emerson is a caring father, a loving husband, and a skilled aviator who is supported and loved by a vast network of friends, family, and colleagues,” his lawyer said.

“He would never intentionally hurt another person. Joe was not under the influence of any intoxicants when he boarded that flight.”

The New York Times says Emerson has been an airline pilot for more than two decades. 

His Federal Aviation Administration medical certifications were always completed and have never been denied, suspended or revoked, Alaska Airlines has confirmed.

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