American airport staff allegedly brutalise disabled teen

Posted: July 4, 2016 in Political musings, Popular Culture et al
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A US mum is seeking $133,000 compensation after her disabled teen daughter was allegedly beaten, and jailed for a day, by airport security. Reporting (which we pass on here) certainly doesn’t reflect well on the airport, although we have not contacted them for comment and there may be another side to this story. If that comes out in coming days we will report that, too. In any event, it’s an ugly incident.


Hannah Cohen after being detained. Picture supplied.

Hannah Cohen after being detained. Picture supplied.


We all know that airport security is important in these troubled times, and staff are understandably a bit jumpy. But when a partially blind, deaf and paralysed teenager flying home from brain tumour treatment was slammed to the ground, received a bloodied face and was thrown in jail when she became startled going through airport security, we have to ask whether this anxiety has gone too far, or whether security staff are given adequate training.

As the story is being reported, Hannah Cohen was 18 when she was returning with her mother Shirley from Memphis International airport to Chattanooga in southeastern Tennessee on 30 June, 2015 – a trip Shirley says they have done many times before without incident.

The young woman set off a metal detector at a security checkpoint and became confused when armed agents approached her and grabbed her arms, startling her, the Guardian reported. The girl’s mother was waiting at the other side of the security gate, wearing a mobility boot to nurse a broken foot, when she saw the harrowing incident unfold.

She said she hobbled to a security supervisor and told them: “She is a St Jude’s patient, and she can get confused. Please be gentle. If I could just help her, it will make things easier.”

Security agents told Hannah they needed to take her to a “sterile area” to do a further search. She said she was afraid, and, (very sensibly, in our opinion), suggested she remove her sequined shirt which appeared to be triggering the alert, as she had another top underneath. But officers allegedly laughed at her and instead called for backup.

When armed security arrived, Hannah became afraid. Her mother said the brain tumour left her partially deaf and blind in one eye, so she was startled easily.

“I tried to push away,” Hannah said. “I tried to get away.”

Her mother alleges the guards then detained Hannah and slammed her body to the ground, with her face hitting the floor, leaving the teen “physically and emotionally” injured.

“They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” her mother told Memphis TV station WREG3. “She’s trying to get away from them but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor. There was blood everywhere. Another guard pushed me back 20ft, in my boot, and told me I couldn’t be nearby,” the girl’s mother told the Guardian.

Shirley said she quickly grabbed her phone from the security conveyer belt and took a photo of her distraught daughter on the ground.

The terrified young woman was then arrested and taken from the airport in handcuffs to jail, with blood dripping from her face. She was released 24 hours later.

Her family has filed a $133,000 lawsuit against the US Transport Security Administration and Memphis-Shelby County airport authority claiming Hannah was not given adequate accommodation to be screened, and alleging she was discriminated against her because of her disability.

Unbelievable: it looks like the slide to authoritarian behaviour by some security staff and police in America continues apace, or at least that’s how it appears from the way the story is being reported. At the very least, a PR disaster.

  1. underwriiter505 says:

    Stuff like this happens every day. Not this egregious, but bullying is SOP, and having a disability can make a person automatically suspect because a disabled person often doesn’t act “normal.” Anything that differs from the “norm” is suspect. Rev. Dr. William J Barber Jr was hassled on an aircraft a couple of months ago. He is a very large man, and requires two seats, for which he had paid, and that and his being a man of color were against him. But he wasn’t injured so it wasn’t news. Training is of course at fault, but so must screening be, since former war criminals have been discovered employed by TSA. It would seem obvious to me that being disabled, or being black, or being large enough to need two seats, are not disguises that a terrorist planning to blow up the plane would voluntarily adopt, instead preferring to appear “normal,” but no one asked me, and I don’t fly. Neither does my former boss from back in 2002, a wonderful, gentle man, who while serving in the Navy as a chaplain’s assistant had been in combat and lost a leg, and who therefore has a prosthesis. He never shared the details, but he must have been terribly humiliated by them. So this is not really even new. And I will stop ranting now..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pat A says:

    What on EARTH are they doing to that poor disabled girl?!! Do they have absolutely no brain/intelligence and no remnants of soul left?

    Heavens – it gets worse – reading underwriiter505’s post that ” former war criminals have been discovered employed by TSA” – what the heck?!!!

    Its enough to make you want (briefly) to give up – but that would be to let evil and stupidity win, and we can’t do that.

    I have never sued anyone in my life (though I could have) – but both this case and the one mentioned by underwriiter505 sound as though the perpetrators will only listen if sued – they sound too stupid to do otherwise.

    (You’d have thought that underwriiter505’s point about potential terrorists wanting not to be noticed would have occurred to Security before now – apparently not!).


  3. underwriiter505 says:

    Seems to be validated; there is no counter-story but there is a petition.


  4. […] via American airport staff allegedly brutalise disabled teen — Well, This Is What I Think […]


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