This dramatic change of heart was expressed at a press conference outside Slater's Queens, N.Y., home on Thursday, reports NBCNewYork. With his client standing at his side, Slater's Legal Aid attorney, Howard Turman, told reporters, "JetBlue is a wonderful airline which he has loved working for, and wishes to continue working for. He understands the problems, but it has been a fair and understanding airline."
Slater, 38, has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing. He remains free on $2,500 bail. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.
According to Turman, a plea deal may be in the works. "We have engaged in preliminary discussions with the District Attorney's office, about a favorable outcome for all parties involved," said the attorney. "My client is hopeful that this will work out."
However, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told NBCNewYork: "There have been no discussions with respect to a disposition. We have an ongoing investigation with many more witnesses to speak to. This is a serious case."
As JetBlue cooperates with investigators looking into what took place on the 90-minute flight from Pittsburgh to New York's JFK – conflicting stories about Slater and an allegedly unruly customer are emerging from other passengers – the airline's chief operating officer Rob Maruster has labeled Slater's actions "unacceptable" and "still questionable," reports the Wall Street Journal.
In a memo from Maruster to airline employees and obtained by the Journal, the executive writes, "Intentionally arming and deploying an evacuation slide for anything other than the express purpose of protecting the safety of our Crew and Customers is unacceptable. It will not, and can not, be tolerated."