An Oregon grand jury has indicted a former Alaska Airlines pilot on 84 counts after he allegedly cut off a plane's engine mid-flight when he was off-duty in October.
Former Alaska Airlines Capt. Joseph David Emerson, 44, is charged with one count of endangering aircraft and 83 counts of recklessly endangering another person aboard Horizon Air Flight 2059 from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco on Oct. 22, according to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.
The Alaska Air Group owns Horizon and Alaska Airlines.
Emerson, who was off-duty in the jump seat during the flight, "unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines" via the aircraft's fire suppression system, Alaska Airlines said in a statement last month.
"The fire suppression system consists of a T-handle for each engine. If the T-handle is fully deployed, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel to the engine," the airline said. "In this case, the quick reaction of our crew to reset the T-handles ensured engine power was not lost."
The flight diverted to Portland, Oregon, following the incident.
Emerson initially faced 83 counts of attempted murder on top of the 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft, to which he pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers for Emerson, including Ethan Levi, Nathan Horst and Norah Van Dusen, said in a Tuesday statement that the attempted murder charges initially filed against their client "were never appropriate in this case because Captain Emerson never intended to hurt another person or put anyone at risk – he just wanted to return home to his wife and children."
"Simply put: Captain Emerson thought he was in a dream; his actions were taken in a single-minded effort to wake up from that dream and return home to his family," the statement continued. "While we are pleased that the grand jury correctly determined that the attempted murder counts were inappropriate in this case, we were disappointed to learn that the grand jury did indict Captain Emerson for a single count of endangering an aircraft and 83 misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person."
Emerson also faces federal charges for allegedly endangering flight staff.
Federal court records state that Emerson told police he was depressed and took psychedelic mushrooms days prior to the flight and thought he was in a dream when he was onboard the aircraft. He also said he had not slept in "40 hours" and was having a nervous breakdown when he apparently attempted to cut the plane's engine.
"I didn’t feel OK. It seemed like the pilots weren’t paying attention to what was going on. They didn’t… it didn’t seem right," Emerson allegedly said. "Yah… I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up."
Alaska Airlines removed Emerson from service following the allegations.
Emerson is being detained at the Multnomah County Detention Center, and a preliminary hearing for the defendant is scheduled for Dec. 7.
Fox News' Adam Sabes and Daniella Genovese contributed to this report.