On June 30, 2015, Shirley Cohen snapped a shocking photo of her handcuffed, weeping and bleeding daughter sitting on the floor after being arrested by TSA workers in Memphis Airport.
19-year-old Hannah Cohen was heading back to Chattanooga, Tennessee, after a visit at St. Jude Hospital, where the teen was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. Going through security at the Memphis Airport, sequins on Cohen’s shirt set off the metal detector and was flagged for extra screening.
Agents told Hannah they needed to take her to a “sterile area” where they could search her further. According to Hannah’s mother, the teen was afraid and offered to take off the sequined shirt as she was wearing another underneath, but a female agent laughed at her.
Her mother tried to explain to TSA agents the teen is disabled from a brain tumor that left her partially blind, deaf and easily confused.
“They disregarded what I was telling them and called for backup,” said Shirley Cohen.
That’s when things escalated.
When the guards grabbed each of her arms, it startled her. When Cohen tried to push the guards away, they slammed her to the ground, smashing her face into the floor, which left her physically and emotionally injured.
“Blood coming down her face; there was blood in her hair,” says Hannah’s mother Shirley. “They were both on top of her with their knees in her back.”
Hannah Cohen was arraigned on multiple charges, including resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and assault, all of which were later dropped.
Cohens sued the Memphis airport, airport police, and the TSA for a “reasonable sum, not exceeding $100,000.00”, plus an undisclosed amount in punitive damages. Although the TSA has not officially commented on the lawsuit, a spokesperson released a statement saying, “Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation.”