After the run-in with the passenger, Slater was sent to the front seating area of the plane where he was seen drinking freely, police said. Then he got on the public address system and made his dramatic exit.
Slater then reportedly took the airport's AirTrain to an employee parking lot and drove to his nearby home, where police later arrested him.
Police said the passenger had no intent of hitting the flight attendant with her suitcase. She did not commit a crime and was simply guilty of rudeness. The police hope to interview the woman as a formality, but had not done so by midday today, according to sources.
Heather Robinson was a passenger on the flight and was surprised by the PA announcement. She hadn't seen the fight or the slide deploy.
"I just thought it was just someone who was angry and was just giving what you would imagine as a fantasy quitting speech," Robinson told ABC News. "It is the thing that everyone fantasizes about, quitting in a dramatic way I guess."
"He sounded like he was fed up," she added. "Not angry, so I wasn't scared or anything."
Robinson said she doesn't condone what Slater did but understands where he was coming from.
"I had empathy for him. He wasn't threatening or anything," she added. "It was clear to me that was just a person sounding off."
Police say that Slater could have killed or severely injured somebody on the ground with his escape. The emergency slide deploys out of the aircraft with a force of 3,000 psi. The typical car tire pressure is around 30 to 35 psi.
When asked about possibly killing somebody on the ground, Turman replied: "There's a window. He's worked in this industry for years. He knows the correct procedure."
The cost to replace the chute, according to the police report, is more than $25,000. Additionally, JetBlue could lose tens of thousands of dollars more, while the jet out of service for repairs.
Passenger Phil Catelinet said that as the plane was taxiing to the gate, it stopped and several passengers got up to get their bags. One of the flight attendants announced that the plane was not quite at the gate yet and asked everyone to sit down.
He then heard Slater on the overhead sound system say, "I've had it."
A few minutes later on the AirTrain, he saw Slater.
"I recognized him from the flight; it looked like he had a cut on his forehead. I recognized his voice when he started talking to another passenger from our flight about how he'd just had enough and quit his job," Catelinet wrote on his blog. "Then he said something about someone using the emergency slide to get off the plane. I still wasn't sure what had happened. I thought a passenger had taken the fun way out."
Catelinet said Slater was telling another passenger on the train that he was fed up with this passenger who had a bag problem.
"He said something like 'your bag's right here!' and mimed pulling the emergency slide," Catelinet wrote.
Slater, who lives in the Belle Harbor section of Queens, New York, has been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. Besides setting bail, Judge Mary R. O'Donoghue signed two orders of protection: one for Steven Gullian, the captain of the JetBlue flight and another for June Donovan of JetBlue security. Both gave witness statements to the police.