Ex-pilot indicted for trying to cut plane engines can be released pending trial, judge says

A former pilot who allegedly tried to cut off an in-flight plane’s engines, threatening the lives of dozens of people, is out of jail on a judge’s ruling this week.

Former pilot Joseph Emerson, 44, of Pleasant Hill, Calif., has pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment after he previously faced attempted murder charges. Oregon’s Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Ryan made the decision to let him out.

Per The Associated Press: “The release conditions agreed to by defense attorneys and prosecutors in the state case include that Emerson post a $50,000 bond, undergo mental health services, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and not come within 30 feet (9 meters) of an operable aircraft.”

He reportedly admitted to recently ingesting psychedelic mushrooms and was in distress thinking he was dreaming before he pulled an emergency alarm to cut off the plane’s engines mid-flight.

A grand jury initially indicted Emerson on 83 counts of recklessly endangering another person — one for each person on board. It’s since been reduced.

Emerson reportedly attempted to grab two handles to turn off the plane’s fuel on an Oct. 22 flight.

He was not on duty but was flying in the “jump seat” — a spot reserved primarily for airline employees in the cabin near the pilots.

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