The niece of former Governor Chris Christie falsely accused a Latino family on a plane of "smuggling cocaine" and then injured six Louisiana deputies who removed her from the flight to New Jersey, authorities said.

Soon after boarding the flight out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at around 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Shannon Epstein, 25, asked another group of passengers if they were smuggling drugs, the New Orleans Advocate first reported.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff spokesperson Capt. Jason Rivarde confirmed to New Jersey 101.5 that the Spirit Airlines flight had already begun to taxi but returned to the gate as Epstein "became extremely combative." It took seven sheriff's deputies to restrain her to a wheelchair and six of them were injured.

New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to a Christie spokesperson for comment.

Biting, kicking during arrest

Epstein's chaotic arrest included shouting, kicking, and biting, Rivarde said.

According to Rivarde, Epstein yelled at the deputies, telling them her uncle was a friend of former President Donald Trump and that she had relatives in high places. She threatened that they would lose their jobs or go to jail.

Epstein is also accused of kicking one deputy in the groin and biting another one so hard it broke the skin. They were treated at the scene.

Epstein is charged with six counts of battery on a police officer, three counts of disturbing the peace, one count of resisting arrest by force, and one count of remaining after forbidden. She was released on $10,750 bail. Her court date in Jefferson Parish is set for Jan. 23, 2023.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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