A witness shot dramatic video Sunday night on the flight from Miami.
American Airlines says the man and another passenger got into an argument. Witnesses said the man, identified by police as 28-year-old Jacob Garcia of Chicago, had been rude to a couple on the flight. They said after he was moved to a different seat by flight attendants, he started using racial slurs.
"What was going through my mind was: this guy is an idiot, and I hope I don't get caught up in the madness," passenger Adisak Pochanayon said.
An arrest report says Garcia touched a female passenger, screamed and insulted the woman and her boyfriend.
"At that point, it should have just been over with and called it a day. But the guy made that racial slur on the way back to his seat," Pochanayon said.
The flight crew asked Garcia to get off the plane. When he refused, officers were called in to remove him. They had to use a Taser at one point.
"Once law enforcement was on the aircraft, the passenger then became combative with the officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department. The same passenger was subsequently arrested by law enforcement," American Airlines said in a statement to ABC News.
As he was being taken to a police car, officers said he reached for an officer's gun, but officers were able to get him under control.
Garcia has been charged with battery, depriving an officer of means of protection, disorderly conduct, resisting an officer and criminal mischief. In court Monday afternoon, he said nothing. The judge set his bond at $6,000.
There was no answer at his home on the Northwest Side, where he lives with his aunt and uncle. A neighbor said Garcia is a nice guy who is studying to be a veterinarian.
The flight to O'Hare was delayed about an hour.