Butler Star Terrence Howard Accused of Assaulting Flight Attendant

Somehow we missed this 2000 case.

Earlier this week, I uncovered details about a 2005 incident where actor Terrence Howard, who lives in suburban Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after a violent altercation with a woman at a local diner. I also recounted accusations against Howard from other women, including an ex-girlfriend and two ex-wives, one of whom obtained a restraining order against Howard just last week. (Howard co-stars with Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, due out this week.)

And now the blog Gawker has picked up my story and pointed out yet another incident where Howard was accused of assaulting a woman.

In 2000, Howard was on a Continental Airlines flight from Toronto to Cleveland. According to reports from that time, Howard was standing in the aisle while the seat-belt light was on. The actor was reportedly taking his toddler to the bathroom.

A female flight attendant told Howard to sit down. He allegedly grabbed her wrist and yelled at her to get out of his way, a police lieutenant told the press at the time. When the plane landed in Cleveland, Howard was charged with assault and spent the night in jail. (Howard’s mugshot photos from Cleveland appear above.) But the district attorney’s office dropped the case, explaining that it was a federal matter, because it occurred in the skies in an airplane.

The FBI investigated, but federal charges were never filed.

Here’s how Howard summarized those events in 2005 (the same year he punched the woman in the diner) when he appeared on Winfrey’s show during a publicity tour for the movie Crash:

Mr. HOWARD: Well, my daughter was two years old and she had just been potty trained, and so we get on this plane headed to — headed from Toronto to Philadelphia and making a pit stop in Cleveland. But we sit on the runway for a half-hour before taking off. And I’m telling my baby, `We’re going to go to the bathroom right when we get up.’ Well, we get in the air and we’re still — another 20 minutes before they’re not even turning the seat belt sign off, but we’ve leveled off. So I get up to take my little girl to the bathroom; I’m so proud of her. And this woman comes and stands in front of me, the flight attendant. This is before 9/11, before all the fear about what’s going to happen if somebody doesn’t listen to a flight attendant. she’s, like, `You need to take your seat, sir.’ I was like, `No, I am. I’ve just got to take my daughter to the bathroom.’ And she said, `You need to take your seat and have your seat buckled.’ And I said, `I understand that, but I’ve got to take my little girl to the bathroom.’ `Sit down!’

Now I’m a 29-year-old black man at this time. I’m no little baby. Now I’ve assumed the responsibilities of taking care of — if something happens to my daughter as a result of us being in the air, but this woman, you know, she said — when she said that to me, I realized, `I have no place left to go.’ And it’s a small little aircraft. You can’t go around her. So I turn around and I sit back down, and then she looked over at me and said, `And put your seat belt on!’ And…


Mr. HOWARD: So now I get up and I got my daughter in my hand and I’m just gonna go to the bathroom. And she said — she put her finger in my face — `I told you to sit down, and if you don’t sit down you’re gonna be in trouble.’ Now I haven’t had a chance to respond back to her yet. Pilot comes out, you know, because I guess somebody’s knocked on the door. And I — you know, and I explained to him, `Look, I haven’t been able to put my little girl — my girl’ — you know, while I’m standing here talking to him, my daughter proceeds to, you know, pee on herself and me. So what I’m defending is my daughter’s, you know, dignity.


Mr. HOWARD: The pilot says — he says, `I’m so sorry,’ and he goes and turns off the sign and I go in the bathroom, I get my — the girl — daughter cleaned up; come sit back down. Come off the plane, there’s five marshals there that took me to jail because she said I grabbed her and shook her. You know? And, yeah, I could say that she said, you know, the N-word, you know, when she was talking to me, but I have no proof of that beyond me standing there and hearing her say, `Now sit in your seat, you’ — and you see her stop for a moment. So I get arrested for assaulting somebody on a plane, which I never did. I’m sa — I spent a week in jail. My children are separated from me. The FBI investigates it and she drops the whole thing like that’s — everything’s good. But for the next five years, anytime you look up IMDB and you look up Terrence Howard, the first thing you read was, `was recently released from prison’…

(During the same interview, Howard admitted that his father was convicted of murder in the notorious 1971 Santa Line Slaying in Ohio.)

So, in case you are keeping track (and as Gawker rightfully pointed out), Howard has been accused of assaulting, hitting, attacking or grabbing women six different times. That we know of. Now that’s a whole lot of smoke.