The official said the man, who was wearing military fatigues and spoke Portuguese and little English, was apparently a boxer and was described as walking around the cabin during the flight, trying to attract attention by throwing punches into the air. "He was strutting his stuff," the official said.
Even though federal authorities won't prosecute, local prosecutors are considering some charges.
Ken Wolfenberger, of Whittier, Calif., who was on the flight, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he helped subdue the unruly passenger. The man wore patches on his fatigues with special forces and jujitsu champion logos, Wolfenberger said.
The man had been acting strangely for about 20 minutes, then sat up, wrapped belts around his hands and threw punches into the air, Wolfenberger said.
Wolfenberger said he heard a flight attendant yell for help and tell the man, “Sir, get your hand off the handle.”
“Any time you hear a flight attendant shout ‘please help,’ you worry that something pretty bad is going to happen,” he said.