Nineteen-year-old Hannah Cohen had a tumor on her brain stem, for which she had been treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee for seventeen years.
About a year ago, the tumor had finally been removed, and she and her mother Shirley were on their way back home to Harrison, a city not far from Chattanooga.
As Hannah and her mom were making their way through the airport security checkpoint, the alarm sounded, indicating to the TSA agents in charge that further screening was necessary.
Shirley tried to explain to the agents that her daughter had just been treated for a brain tumor, and that she was mentally impaired. In addition, Hannah is blind in her left eye, deaf in her left ear, and paralyzed.
The agents were not interested in what the mother was trying to tell them, so they proceeded to try to pat her down. Because of Hannah’s mental and emotional state, she wasn’t complying with the TSA agents’ orders. They called for backup. The Times Free Press reported:
“They were grabbing her from both sides,” Shirley Cohen alleged Friday. “One of them slammed her down, hit her head on the cement, and there was blood everywhere.”
As two agents thrust their knees into her daughter’s back and clapped handcuffs around her wrists, another agent grabbed Shirley Cohen and pulled her away from her daughter, she said.
In the interrogation room, a TSA agent accused Hannah of hitting one of the agents and indicated that they would be pressing charges.
It gets worse. The incident prompted police to arrest the girl, and after a night in the hospital – while two officers guarded her room – she was taken to jail.
Later, prosecutors dropped all the charges against her and refunded the bail money. But that was too little, too late.
Now, surveillance footage of the incident has been released showing the altercation between the cancer patient and the TSA agent:
On June 28th – almost exactly one year after the incident took place – Shirley Cohen sued the TSA, as well as other agencies, for $100,000.
I think it goes without saying that if TSA agents are going to exist in the first place – which they shouldn’t – then they need a lot more training on how to deal with those who are mentally and/or physically impaired.
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