Joseph Emerson, off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot, indicted for allegedly trying to shut down plane's engines

A grand jury indicted an off-duty pilot on dozens of counts on Tuesday after he allegedly tried turning off the engines midair on a Horizon Air flight from Everett, Wash. to San Francisco in October.

Joseph Emerson, 44, was charged with one count of endangering aircraft and 83 counts of recklessly endangering another person by a grand jury in Portland, Ore. He had also been accused of attempted murder when he was arrested, but the grand jury did not indict him on that charge.

The Horizon Air plane made an emergency diversion to Portland on Oct. 22 after the flight crew restrained Emerson, who worked for Alaska Airlines and had been traveling in the cockpit as a passenger, after he tried seizing controls that would have disabled the engines on Flight 2059.

When questioned by investigators about his actions, Emerson allegedly admitted to having mental health problems and was confused. 

"Yah…I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up," Emerson said, according to the federal affidavit previously filed against him in U.S. District Court in Oregon. "I'm admitting to what I did. I'm not fighting any charges you want to bring against me, guys."

Emerson lives in the San Francisco suburb of Pleasant Hill, Calif.