Chris Christie’s niece kicked off flight after falsely accusing family of ‘smuggling cocaine’, report says

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s niece was taken off a plane last week after she accused a couple she perceived to be Latino of smuggling drugs on the flight, a report said.

Shannon Epstein, 25, boarded a Spirit Airlines flight to New Jersey from the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans on November 24 at about 6am.

She proceeded to ask a family near her, who she perceived to be Latino, if they were “smuggling cocaine”, Captain Jason Rivarde, a sheriff’s office spokesperson on Friday told The Times-Picayune newspaper.

He added that airline workers requested Ms Epstein be removed from the plane as she became increasingly irate, and the plane, which had started to taxi to the runway, returned to the gate, Mr Rivarde said.

He said that Ms Epstein became “extremely combative” when officials came and tried to arrest her.

The former governor’s niece allegedly bit, kicked and spit on Jefferson Parish sheriff officers trying to detain her.

In the ensuing scuffle, Ms Epstein reportedly injured six deputies, biting one on the arm and kicking another in the groin, Mr Rivarde said.

Seven officials were needed to handcuff her to a wheelchair to be moved to the airport security office. Ms Epstein allegedly hurled abuses at them and threatened them that they would either lose their jobs or be sent to jail.

She also said her uncle is close friends with former president Donald Trump, Mr Riverde said.

Mr Christie was an adviser to Mr Trump on the latter’s 2016 campaign following the former governor’s own withdrawal from the race.

He later supported the second impeachment of the president in 2021 following the attack on the US Capitol.

Ms Epstein 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 after forbidden.

She has been released on bail.