US airport security denies assault of disabled girl

  • 04/07/2016
19-year-old Hannah Cohen (Shirley Cohen)
19-year-old Hannah Cohen (Shirley Cohen)

The US airport security company, who allegedly assaulted a 19-year-old girl with disabilities at an airport checkpoint, says the injuries she is claiming didn't happen.

Hanna Cohen was flying home from Chattanooga on June 30, court documents show, after receiving treatment at Memphis' St Jude Hospital.

Ms Cohen has physical and mental impairments which affect her ability to walk, talk, see and hear. This was caused by damage from radiation and removal of a brain tumour.

As she went through the security checkpoint the warning alarm went off and Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) agents went to search her. Ms Cohen, who is partially blind in one eye, became disorientated and confused.

Her mother, Shirley Cohen, said she tried to tell the agents and airport police about her daughter's disability, but was pushed aside. She told WREG-TV there was "blood everywhere" after security personnel hit her daughter's head on the floor.

Ms Cohen was arrested and taken to the Memphis Police Department, but the charges were later dropped.

The family has since filed a lawsuit against the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority and the TSA. The lawsuit asks for a sum "not exceeding $100,000" in damages for medical expenses, personal and emotional injury, pain and suffering, and embarrassment.

On Tuesday evening (local time), the company tweeted: "The interaction with TSA at the Memphis checkpoint did not result in any of the injuries she is claiming."

The TSA called reports on the incident "inaccurate" and "police responded when the passenger refused screening or to leave". It says it can't comment further because of pending litigation.