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Family Sues TSA After Teen Cancer Patient Assaulted

'One of them slammed her down … there was blood everywhere'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2016 12:49 PM CDT
Lawsuit: TSA Agents Assaulted Disabled Teen Cancer Patient
Travelers are screened by TSA agents at LaGuardia Airport in New York. A lawsuit filed this week accuses TSA agents in Memphis of assaulting a disabled teenager.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A Tennessee family is suing after they say TSA agents and airport police assaulted their disabled teenage daughter, WREG reports. Hannah Cohen and her mom Shirley were traveling home to Chattanooga after Hannah's final treatment for a brain tumor in June 2015. According to the Guardian, Hannah had made the trip hundreds of times for operations throughout her life. This time, she set off the metal detector at Memphis International Airport. Shirley says a TSA agent laughed when 18-year-old Hannah blamed the sequins on her shirt. Agents tried to take her to another screening area for a search. But, Hannah is deaf in one ear, blind in one eye, partially paralyzed, and "easily confused," per WREG. Shirley says her daughter didn't understand what was happening and struggled with agents.

Instead of letting her explain what was happening to her daughter, Shirley says agents kept her 20 feet away and called for backup over the PA, bringing armed airport police. "One of them slammed her down, hit her head on the cement, and there was blood everywhere," Shirley tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press. All Shirley could do was take a photo of Hannah on the ground, "handcuffed, weeping, and bleeding," per the Guardian. Hannah spent the next 24 hours in police custody. All charges were dropped a few days later, but Shirley says the ongoing stress from the incident caused Hannah to lose a college scholarship. Last week, the family sued the airport, airport police, and TSA. “These people think they are God. They think they can do anything they want,” Shirley tells the Guardian. “It’s time for justice.” (A 10-year-old girl was subjected to an intense 2-minute patdown because of a juice pouch.)

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