Security video has surfaced showing a confrontation between airport security officials and a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital patient.
Surveillance footage from a Memphis International Airport video shows the June 30, 2015, incident in which Hannah Cohen struggled with airport police before allegedly being slammed to the ground.
The confrontation resulted in a federal lawsuit. The video was obtained by the Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis.
Cohen, 19, and her mother, Shirley, were going through the security check at the airport on their way back to their Chattanooga home following treatment at the Memphis-based hospital, USA Today reported. In the video, Cohen is seen speaking with security officials and then trying to punch one of them before he knocked her to the ground.
As Cohen went through the security screening, an alarm went off, according to the lawsuit filed by the family a few weeks ago. Cohen was impaired from radiation treatment and the removal of a brain tumor, which left the teen with limited ability to talk, walk, stand, see and hear, the lawsuit said, according to USA Today.
“(She) became disoriented and confused by the warning alarm and the actions of the personnel manning the security checkpoint to try to search her person because of her disability. The security personnel failed to recognize that she was confused because of her obvious disability and was unable to cooperate with the search,” the lawsuit stated.
It further claims that Cohen’s mother tried repeatedly to tell the Transportation Security Administration and Memphis International Airport Police Department personnel who were manning the checkpoint about her daughter’s disabilities. According to the mother, two guards grabbed her daughter, who is blind in her left eye and deaf in her left ear and had been under anesthesia the day before.
“It freaked her out,” Cohen’s mother said. “They didn’t listen to me at all. When they grabbed her, it scared her, and she was trying to get away from them. The next thing I know, one of them slammed her down on the floor and busted her head open. There was blood everywhere.”
A police report indicated that Cohen refused to go through additional screening and would not leave the checkpoint. Cohen was handcuffed and arrested on charges that she allegedly hit an officer in the shoulder, chest and face. The officer was not hurt, according to a police report, and the charges were later dropped, according to the lawsuit.
USA Today reported:
Cohen and her mother are suing the airport police, TSA and the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority for damages that include medical expenses, personal injury, emotional injury, pain, suffering and embarrassment. They ask for a “reasonable sum not exceeding $100,000 and costs,” the lawsuit states.
They allege the officers and agents of the TSA and airport police discriminated against Cohen because of her disability and failed to provide reasonable accommodation for screening her. They allege the airport authority failed to properly manage the personnel.
TSA spokesman Mark Howell and Jerry Brandon, chief of public safety of the Memphis International Airport Police Department, were unable to comment on the pending litigation.
“At this point, it is alleged, ” Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority President and CEO Scott Brockman said. “Anybody can file anything, and we don’t comment on active litigation. Clearly there are additional facts in this matter, and we won’t comment until we address the litigation.”
Cohen had reportedly been going to St. Jude’s for 17 years and never had an incident while traveling through the airport before, according to her mother.
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