A nineteen-year-old brain tumor patient was returning home on June 30, after her last treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, when a bloody encounter at Memphis International Airport turned celebration into disaster. After setting off the metal detector, the disabled young woman was confused by the demands of TSA — and they responded by slamming her to the ground and throwing her in jail.

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According to WREG Memphis, Hannah Cohen, who is partially deaf, blind in one eye, and paralyzed, became nervous when TSA attempted to perform further scanning and resisted their approach.

“She was reluctant, she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” Cohen’s mother, Shirley, told WREG.

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Shirley attempted to explain that her daughter’s disabilities hindered her comprehension. However, neither police nor TSA heeded her, and she was prevented from approaching the scuffle. She could only watch as her frightened, unarmed daughter was subjected to brutal treatment by airport security.

“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 recounted. “There was blood everywhere.”

Seventeen years of medical treatment concluded not with joy and celebration, but with Hannah Cohen confined in Shelby County Jail East, suffering from a head injury. Charges against the young woman have, thankfully, been dismissed. But in the meantime, the Cohen family has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against the Memphis Airport, Airport Police, and the Transportation Security Administration.

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None of these three organizations responded to WREG for comment, but Sari Koshetz of TSA released a statement alluding to the incident: “Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation.”


Screengrab via WREG Memphis.