Hannah Cohen, a young disabled woman whose mother describes as “partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed and easily confused,” was beaten by Transportation Security Agents (TSA) after her flight home.
The young woman was then led from the Memphis International Airport, beaten, bloodied, bruised, and in handcuffs — and then booked into jail.
Cohen was returning home to Chattanooga after receiving treatment for her brain tumor at St. Jude’s Hospital. In fact, Hannah Cohen was returning home after receiving her final treatment for the brain tumor, and this trip back from St. Jude’s just marked one of many as she has been flying back and forth from St. Jude’s Hospital for years. But instead of being able to celebrate the completion of her treatment, Hannah Cohen and her mother were subjected to rough handling and inexplicable treatment from the TSA and its agents, as well as local police in Memphis.
The story is a disturbing one.
Cohen, who is 19-years-old, apparently set off the metal detector at a TSA security checkpoint screening. She was led away from additional screening, and that’s when things began to go horribly wrong.
Hannah’s mother, Shirley Cohen, did what any mother — especially the mother of a disabled person — would do. She attempted to step in, trying to explain to the TSA agents that Hannah may need further consideration and help in understanding what was occurring to her.
“They wanted to do further screening, but [Hannah] was reluctant — she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said Shirley Cohen.
Hannah’s mother attempted to relay to the TSA agents that her daughter is partially deaf, partially blind, paralyzed, and easily confused, as well as undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, but reported that instead of listening, police actively sought to keep her separated from her disabled daughter, who was being escorted away by the security agents.
Hannah, no doubt confused and absolutely terrified, attempted to break free of the agents, and the TSA agents then took the disabled young woman to the ground — violently.
“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,” Cohen said, recounting the moment TSA agents tackled her disabled daughter and threw the young woman to the ground.
“There was blood everywhere.”
The young woman, who was simply returning home in what should have been victory after finally completing treatment for the brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital, was arrested and booked into jail. Hannah and her mother should have been celebrating, but instead, Hannah Cohen, unable to fully see, hear, or understand what was happening to her, with her head bloodied, was separated from her mother, handcuffed, and booked into jail.
“Here we were with nowhere to go, not even a toothbrush, our bags had gone to Chattanooga,” said Shirley Cohen.
Authorities later threw out the charges, local news station WREG reported, but the Cohen family has filed a lawsuit against the Memphis Airport, Airport Police, and the Transportation Security Administration.
Although none of the parties named in the suit would comment regarding the pending suit, Sari Koshetz of the TSA released a statement.
“Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation.”
Shirley Cohen has been traveling back and forth with Hannah to St. Jude’s Hospital for a total 17 years. The two have never had a problem. In fact, Cohen stated, after all the help she has received there, she can’t believe it ended like this.
“She’s 19 but she’ll always be my baby. We’ve been through so much,” Cohen said.
[Image via YouTube screengrab/WREG video]