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FBI documents reveal further information about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s 2016 plane incident

No charges were filed against Pitt after an investigation by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Image: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in London on May 8, 2014.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in London on May 8, 2014.Fred Duval / FilmMagic file
/ Source: NBC News

Angelina Jolie said Brad Pitt accused her of “ruining this family” during a heated — and at times physical — confrontation aboard their private jet in 2016, according to an FBI report of the incident shared with both parties originally in 2017. The report, which has not been made public, was obtained by NBC News on Tuesday. 

A recently sealed Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the FBI listed a “Jane Doe” as seeking the release of the FBI documents. The details of what is being sought in the most recent filing are unclear, and an attorney for Jane Doe said in April that she couldn’t comment on the identity of her client. But the lawyer noted this client was “seeking such records for years but has been stonewalled and has had to resort to court action to receive needed records.”

The original filing, viewed by NBC News in March, described the plaintiff as a woman and recounted that “her then-husband, and their children, who were all minors at the time, were traveling via private aircraft,” when the “husband allegedly physically and verbally assaulted plaintiff and the children, who have ‘experienced lasting physical and mental trauma as a result of the assault.’” The summary of events contained in the Freedom of Information / Privacy Act (FOIPA) filing are similar to what is detailed in the FBI report. 

Representatives for Jolie did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for Pitt declined to comment. The FBI also has declined to discuss the case.

But sources familiar with the ongoing legal battle between the two cast aspersions on Jolie for allegedly seeking to have this document publicized via FOIPA.

“This report was given to both parties, almost six years ago. We both had it, in its entirety,” sources told NBC News. “The final paragraph (...) is very clear and concise about the fact that all parties, all law enforcement agreed on the decision to not press charges. This was not like a close call. They did their investigation as they’re supposed to. And the decision was made with all parties in agreement.”

In November 2016, the FBI and Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) closed an investigation into allegations of physical abuse involving Pitt and his children that stemmed from an incident in September 2016 aboard a private plane carrying Pitt, Jolie and their children. A source close to Pitt at the time said, “He is emphatic that it did not reach the level of physical abuse, that no one was physically harmed. He did not hit his child in the face in any way. He did not do that; he is emphatic about that. He put his hands on him, yes, because the confrontation was spiraling out of control.”

No criminal charges were ever filed against Pitt. Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt in September 2016, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. Jolie accused Pitt in 2018 of not paying “meaningful” child support for over a year. Despite being declared legally single in April 2018, custody issues have remained ongoing. The breakup between the couple — once known by fans as “Brangelina” — was very public.

The FBI report paints Jolie’s viewpoint of what she described as a tension-filled, hourslong flight in which she said Pitt had been drinking. 

In a 2017 GQ article, Pitt said he had struggled with alcohol and had stopped drinking.

According to the FBI report, Jolie accused Pitt of pouring beer on her during that September 2016 trip that ended at Los Angeles International Airport.

Pitt appeared to take issue with his then-wife’s parenting during the plane ride at the conclusion of a two-week family trip, according to the report, which didn’t list the originating city.

Jolie and her six children were on the flight, and the “Tomb Raider” actor said she “could tell that (redacted) was mad,” in apparent reference to Pitt, the report stated.

Jolie said when she asked him what was wrong, he allegedly replied: “That kid looks like a f------ Columbine kid.”

“She recalled that (redacted) went on and said things like, ‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’” in apparent reference to her parenting, the report continued. 

They went to the back of the plane, in hopes of being away from the children’s ears, Jolie told the FBI.

Pitt allegedly “grabbed her by the head, shaking her, followed by grabbing her at the shoulders and shaking her” before he punched “the ceiling of the plane approximately four times,” she said.

According to the report, at least one child witnessed the confrontation and asked, “Are you ok mommy” before Pitt allegedly yelled: “No mommy’s not ok. She’s ruining this family. She’s crazy.”  

When someone else on the plane shot back at Pitt, “It’s not her, it’s you, you prick,” Jolie said she had to grab her husband around the neck to keep him from attacking that person.

Pitt spilled wine on to a plane chair, causing $25,000 damage before he also “poured beer on her and the blanket she was under” with her children, according to the FBI report. 

“AJ (Jolie) said she did not want to get a different blanket because she didn’t want to bring attention to them,” the report said. 

Jolie said she was hurt in the struggle, according to the report, which included pictures of an injured hand and elbow. 

Jolie said, according to the report, that when the plane landed, they were unable to deplane with Pitt allegedly erupting, “You’re not f--- going anywhere. You’re not getting off this f--- plane. F--- you all. I’m f------ leaving you.” 

The report states it’s based on an FBI interview with Jolie and that she was on board with six of her children. 

Throughout the report, she’s referred to as “AJ,” while everyone else’s name was redacted.

Five weeks after the flight, federal prosecutors announced they would not be filing any charges against Pitt. 

“This author provided both AUSAs (Assistant U.S. Attorneys) copies of a probable cause statement related to this incident,” the FBI said in the report. 

“After reviewing the document, a representative of the United States Attorney’s Office discussed the merits of this investigation with the case agent. It was agreed by all parties that criminal charges in this case would not be pursued due to several factors.” 

When asked about the recent court filing, a source familiar with the case said about Jolie, “Why are you anonymously filing a FOIA request to try to have the same information again? And the only reason to do it is for media purposes, because six years later, she still has nothing else to talk about other than this. This is information that she’s had for six years. How does this benefit anyone in that family to release this now so many years later?”

Representatives for Jolie have not responded to requests for comment regarding motivation for the Freedom of Information records request. 

Diana Dasrath and Andrew Blankstein reported from Los Angeles and David K. Li from New York City.

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