A disabled teen was injured by security personnel at the Memphis International Airport and locked up in jail for one night.
Hannah Cohen, who is a patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and her mother Shirley Cohen were planning to travel to Chattanooga on June 30, 2015. Hannah had just completed her treatment for brain tumor.
At security checkpoint, Hannah set off the metal detector. “They wanted to do further scanning, she was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” Shirley said, as reported by WREG.
Although Shirley told the authorities that Hannah was partially deaf, blind in one eye, and paralyzed, she was kept at a distance.
“[Hannah] is the St. Jude’s patient and she can get confused,” Shirley tried to tell the authorities. “Please be gentle. If I could help her, it will make things better.”
Hannah was grabbed from both sides by guards, Shirley said. “It freaked [Hannah] out,” Shirley 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.”
As reported by the Commercial Appeal, Hannah was arrested on grounds of lashing out and striking an officer in the shoulder, chest and face. The officer was not injured, and all charges against Hannah were later dropped.
“Here we were with nowhere to go, not even a toothbrush, our bags had gone to Chattanooga,” Shirley said.
“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.”
The mother and daughter are filing a lawsuit against the airport police, TSA and the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, seeking damages for medical expenses, personal injury, emotional injury, pain, suffering and embarrassment. According to lawsuit, Shirley and Hannah are seeking a “reasonable sum not exceeding $100,000 and costs.”