LIVE interview with Matt Silva and Hazel Ramirez - TRANSCRIPT

Transcript for interview. 

Trisha: Hello good morning everyone, to let you know, today we will be talking with the couple, those of you who have been following the news, hold a moment-- thix couple had an an incident with their service dog on a plane and now they will be sharing their story, their perspective of the incident, why they are upset , and DSTidbitNews wants to provide them this platform today to share with you what really happened, what caused it as a whole.  Today they want to share their views, experience, why they are upset.   A lot of times people will not understand from a written perspective what actually happened, so it is very important for us at DSTN to give everyone the chance to determine for yourselves after getting both perspectives as to what really happened.  Ok…. I see… Good… [pause for typing] hold… sorry… good… [typing] ……  ok, so … I informed them that we are live now and they will be joining us for the interview.   Ok, can you see the screen, click to accept or request to join, a green button, do you see that, don’t panic, we will go ahead and lots of other people have had issues with this, so it’s ok.  Sorry, my dog.  Ok… I will look again, please go ahead and add me on friends list and see if that helps.  Other people, please check your ability to make comments and please let me know if you can.  Can you two switch to a different phone, that other phone worked before…. Ah now it seems to be working…… Now adding the two, one moment. 

T : Ok , can you both move over a bit there’s a bit of a glare.   Perfect, much better

Matt : At hotel for vacation in Florida.

T: Great, how are you two?  Good to see you, thank you both for joining us today!  Now, again, I want to emphasize that this is your platform, DSTN wishes to give you the ability to elaborate on what really happened so that the community can get a better idea of what happened with you two.

H: Fine I will go ahead from the top to bottom. Can you see me clear?

T: Yes I can see you clearly, go ahead.

H:  We were flying to Florida for our gender reveal party, you know, to find out if our baby is a girl or boy, what we would be having, and May 16 was our flight, we left Colorado Springs at about 7 and arrived in Orlando at 12:54 (in the morning), and on the flight we were seated, Matt was seated here and my two children were seated next to him with three seats in one row, and I was seated across the aisle from them in a different row because my service dog, a Great Dane, 8 months old, female, too big to fit in that row, so I sat with her, leaving two empty seats next to us.  The dog was lying by my feet, and she did really wonderfully throughout the entire flight, very calm, slept the entire time, was not nervous at all.  Then that family, those three people were seated behind --

T : Behind you [to Hazel]? 

H: No, behind Matt’s row, not ours, Matt’s row. They were seated behind Matt and our children, the man, his wife and son, the three of them, and throughout most of the flight everything was completely fine, no problems.  So, of course, the flight was a long one, four hours from Colorado Springs to Orlando, and our toddlers were very restless on the flight, they were ready to run around, and we had to keep them seated and calmed them down as best we could, and we were finally able to get them both to calm down and eventually fall asleep.  My dog’s duties as a service dog serves the function of our ears, so when noise occurs, the dog’s job is to look where noise is coming from, and that gives us the awareness of where the noise is coming from which will cause us both to look in the direction of the noise.  Also, my daughter has sensory sensitivity needs and the dog is to help all of us.  Throughout the whole flight, everything was fine until we landed, remember , she is a Great Dane, so when I got up, the dog also stood up, getting ready to get our bags to get out of the plane, moving into the aisle before being called, and everyone was standing up, but Tim and his family were still seated, then Tim stood up to get his bags or whatever was in the overhead compartment, and the dog was not even pushing her face in anyone’s way, just looking around, shuffling around a bit, being very observant as is usual for her.

T: Being alert. 

H: Yes, and not actively bothering anyone, just paying attention to the sounds. For us, we are Deaf so we did not hear anything, but then all of a sudden, my daughters both hearing turned towards the dog in shock and worried expressions, and we turned around to look behind us to see what they were upset about, and my dog was yelping when we looked at her, shaking her head with pain and shaking in fear, and when I looked at Tim, his hand was still in a fist in front of my dog’s face, STILL!  Like, why would he hit my dog?   I was immediately concerned about my dog, and …

M: I asked the man “Why did you hit my dog? Why did you do that?” And his immediate response was to stand up and put his fist in my face as if he were going to hit me. 

Trisha: The video missed that whole part.

M: Yeah, the angle was off, but that’s when I got mad, and said “Why did you hit my dog? If you touch my dog you touch me, why, why? “  and he just sat there quietly and didn’t say anything or explain himself. That’s when I asked the flight attendants and airport personnel to call the police.  They didn’t want to stay to wait for the police, they wanted to leave, but I knew it was important for the police to know what happened. Will let Hazel finish the story.

H: Their son filmed it, and I saw their video, and it shows where Matt confronted them, but their video missed the part where Tim did stand up to threaten to punch Matt. After he sat back down, their video started, and his wife was so incredibly apologetic, but unfortunately its not acceptable what that man did to our dog, and we were just trying to get them to stay in the tunnel so that they could talk to the police when they arrived.

M: The woman, the airport attendant told us that the police were coming any moment, and that we should wait, we accepted this and were patient, but they wanted to leave and we were trying to cooperate with everyone and let people through, but the man continued to try to leave.

H: Our entire family sat by the end of the tunnel waiting for the police to arrive, at the request of the airport personnel.  There were two flight attendants involved, one woman was the black woman monitoring foot traffic, and we were sitting waiting for Tim to come off the plane, and when he did, he kept posturing aggressively, trying to evade us, while his wife was peacefully sitting with us waiting for the police to arrive.  We kept telling him that he needed to wait for the police to come. Then the next part happened so fast, I was standing in front of the African American flight attendant and Tim was standing on the other side, with his son immediately behind him, and it happened so fast, Tim pushed his way through both myself and the woman, he then raised his fist towards my pregnant stomach, and I fell backwards to avoid his fist, and he continued to push through the crowd, pushing my two young children who fell backwards, crying so hard. That was when Matt lost his temper and pushed Tim back—

T: Protecting his family, right?

M: The video missed prior to that part, where there were multiple people prior to my pushing him, trying to get him to stay put, trying to get him to calm down, to stay, to wait for the police, but the video missed that part.

H: I noticed, the video was shooting when the man was trying to get through the line, and then shut off when Tim became aggressive and turned on again after, when Matt pushed him, missing the part where Tim punched me in the stomach and caused our children to fall and cry, instead only catching the part where Matt stood up to protect his family.  You can see my daughter crying so hard at the very beginning of the second part of the clip, he must have edited the part out where he punched me and pushed his way through, making it look as if Matt were the aggressive one, when Matt was just defending us. His video missed such a crucial part, and just skipped to the end, when Matt tackled him to the ground, but missed the WHY. At that point I was so upset because my children were crying, so I was focused on my children who were scared of the man who had hurt them.  Instead of leaving us alone and turning off the camera at this point, the man’s son continued to record, and ran around the airport trying to capture more on video, and we just wanted the harassment and filming to stop.  The son zoomed in to my face when I was protecting my children and caring for them, and he was invading my space, so that is why I pushed him away, telling him to leave us alone. Filming the general area is fine, but he didn’t need to get so close to my face, it wasn’t necessary. Finally the police arrived, and we were split up into two groups…..

M: When they arrived, Tim and his family simply walked away, but we were telling the police that no, not to let them leave, that they were the ones we called about, and the police finally caught them and Tim simply shrugged it off and said “Oh well it was just taking too long” and the police saw that and that was when they separated us,

H: They separated us, allowing us to tell our side of the story of what happened, and Tim and his family explained what happened from their side of the story.  Unfortunately, they said that the FBI office was closed, as it was almost 2 o’clock in the morning.  So, we agreed to write a statement of what happened, went down to the police station, wrote a statement, then we were allowed to go home.

M: No hospital, no interpreter, no emergency personnel, nothing, we were just allowed to go home.

T: Almost if they didn’t care?

H: Right, they did not ask us if we needed medical assistance or anything, if our children needed to go to the hospital or anything, nothing. We were told to go home, and I was not sure what to do, but was told that once we went home, the FBI would email us about what to do next. Since then we have heard from multiple news sources…

T: Did you give them your information, like your phone number, email, everything?

H: Yes, we gave them our email and VP number and everything. 

T: Have you heard anything back from them? 

H: Nothing so far

M: We did hear from one person from Frontier Airlines with an offer, but we said no, we wanted to wait until everything was worked out with everyone.  We have flown Frontier Airlines a LOT and this is the first time anything like this has happened.

T: I have a question, there were some people wondering why you didn’t seek treatment for your injuries, but I want to clarify, you never got asked?

M & H: Never, we never got asked.

T: One article did say that you refused medical service.

M: We saw that and we were so confused by it, because she WAS hurt, the baby was not moving at all, and so we went to the doctor and had the baby checked, and the doctor said the baby was fine, just being quiet after that occurred.  We’re not sure where that bit of rumor came from. 

T: Ok, next question, some people were wondering why exactly you did not wait for the proper authorities to arrive. 

M: He immediately got in my face, and that crossed my personal line, and made me upset, which is when I wanted to call the police, but before that, when he actually punched the dog, I was simply asking him why, why did he do that to our dog? Trying to have a discussion and resolve the issue before it escalated. He was already showing major signs of aggression, because I was simply trying to talk to him, upset because he hurt our dog, but wanting to know why, and he responded immediately with a raised fist?  That wasn’t going to solve anything, his response was uncalled for, and it made me respond in the same way. Later on, his wife claimed that she was very sorry for what happened, and that he just slapped the dog, but I saw with my own eyes that he had a raised fist in front of the dog, and 20 to 30 other people heard the dog crying and saw it run under the seat, terrified.  That tells me something worse than a simple slap happened. 

H: That’s the biggest indicator that something happened of a violent nature because if you shove the dog or push the dog away, that would not cause the dog to cry. That tells us something more violent happened.  When a dog cries out yelping like that, it means she was in serious pain, that she was struck directly, and her response immediately after that, to run to another row and hide under the seats proves something more happened.  That means she truly was scared.

M: The flight attendant saw the whole thing and came immediately up asking what was wrong, if there was anything she could do to help. We told her what happened, and she then took it on herself to call the police.  But Tim would not accept waiting and sit patiently to explain his side, he instead expressed more aggression. We simply wanted him to wait for the police to discuss calmly what happened, but he escalated the issue by trying to leave and forcing himself through, by continuing to try to leave when all we wanted was to get the facts and that’s why it escalated the way it did.

T: you’ve gotten a lot of comments from the community about your actions, how do you feel about that?

M: Yes, we have.. I feel a lot of positive support from the hearing world, they have been very supportive and felt that did the right thing in protecting my family, but I will be the first to admit that my anger was wrong, very embarrasing and unfortunately I did cross the line in defense of my family, I accept that.  In the Deaf community, however, I have been very disappointed because they don’t read well, they aren’t reading the full story, and immediately thinking that I was the aggressive one, that I was wrong. Yes, I was, but the important thing is, I was aggressive FOR A REASON. They hurt my children, they hurt my family. That is my reason why I got angry and became aggressive. If he had not hurt my family, my children, my baby, I would have blown it off and moved on, as long as the dog was not permanently injured, its just a dog, and would recover.  If he had only pushed the dog away, that would be one thing, but PUNCHING the dog, and THEN standing and raising his fist at me as if he would punch ME, I couldn’t let that go.

T: The guy provoked you two, got in your face specifically.

M: But, the video happened AFTER that happened. I wish they had videoed the WHOLE thing. It started too late.

H: With his behavior, I 100% support his behavior because he stood up for my dog, for my children, and our family. There may have been some confusion with the Deaf style of signing when upset, feeling like someone is “in your face” but really he did not mean to be. 

M : It could have been perceived as aggressive when I didn’t mean it to be.

H: We wanted to know WHY it happened, and weren’t willing to take it sitting down, because that’s our dog, what happened?

M: That’s why I said “You touched my dog, you touched my dog” repeating it, and the man’s response was silence. He didn’t respond, and I kept asking him the same thing and that’s when the video started, so I really wish it had caught the whole thing..  Oh well.

T: It’s great that you were willing to share your story with us today. I know that it is hard, especially when all the “visual evidence” appears to be against you two, but –

M: Actually, there’s a good point there, the police actually said that the evidence is NOT against me. That we did the right thing. 

T: I meant the video specifically, that some hearing people might see it differently.

M: Actually, I’ve seen it go both ways, both pro and con, so it really depends on how you look at the video. Everyone has the right to their opinion and I just let it go, roll off my back, it’s their opinion.

H: The major point and thing we want to make sure that no one thinks that “Oh it’s okay to look at a dog and punch them in the face with no provocation, and we want to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.   If you feel uncomfortable around a dog or feel that it is getting too close or behaving inappropriately, talk to the owner of the dog, and they will most likely do something about it and handle the dog. Secondly, in a situation like that when you are in a queue and you are impatient to leave a situation, never try to physically get out of the situation by punching a pregnant woman. That is not the way to leave a situation quickly.  Third, to have disregard for children aged 4 and 2 years old in the same situation, that’s why he stood up for us as a family. We really are thankful to him for protecting us.

M: I just so wish they would have showed and filmed EVERYTHING, from START TO FINISH. Seeing only the end, made me look like the worse person of the two, but no, the video missed the important part, him trying to escape from being questioned and did it in a violent way. That’s why I tackled him, to avoid him leaving without being questioned.  I wasn’t alone, three or four people also tackled him. I accepted the consequences.

T: From our comments here, it seems that people have a better understanding of what happened now and they wish you the best of luck and want to see you two safe.  Please keep us updated about what happens with the police, FBI, anything else that happens, so that we can keep the community updated as to what happened. Sometimes it is hard when the story isn’t shown in its whole form, it’s like if you are told to look at something, when you look up, you are missing everything that happened prior to that. That’s exactly why we wanted you two to talk with us today, to offer you two the opportunity to explain your side of the situation and DSTNews is all about transparency and we want to be sure your rights are taken into consideration.

M: And we are not the only ones.  Many Deaf people bring their dogs on to airplanes, as their service dog and have problems.  It is so important to respect the dog as it is providing a service to, and with a Deaf person. I would rather when something happens, TODAY, we solve it here and now, not later, leaving the situation without resolution. That’s not acceptable, we want to solve the issue now, so that next time, it won’t happen. That’s why I’m trying to fix this.

H: To clarify, the dog, the Great Dane, is still in training, but she is in progress of being a service dog for our family. We never claimed that she is a fully trained service dog, she is still young.

T: That was another concern, whether it was a fully trained service dog or a service dog in training…

M: She has an ID, she is certified in progress to become a full service dog. She has passed all of her evaluations except for very specific situations which she hasn’t been trained on just yet, because its not necessary at this time. She has been trained on how to respond to sounds and to inform us of the door, and other things.

T: Do you have anything else you want to add before we close the interview?

M: No …. Just that, what you saw on the video, that was just me trying to protect my family, that’s all. 

T: Thank you so much, I know you’re on vacation, so go enjoy your day, and this will be on the DSTidbitnews website, so please feel free to share and this is what DSTN is all about, ensuring that EVERY perspective is covered, that’s why we wanted to talk with you. Thank you so much for your time, and have a great day.