In footage taken at the Memphis International Airport in 2015, a police officer can be seen throwing 19-year-old Hannah Cohen to the ground and handcuffing her after she triggered a security checkpoint, prompting a federal lawsuit filed by her family. Attorneys for the Chattanooga teen say she had just wrapped up treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis when she tried to fly home with her mother, Shirley Cohen, on June 30, 2015.
Hannah suffers from physical and mental impairments following the removal of a brain tumor and treatment radiation. As a result, she has limited abilities to speak, walk, stand, hear and see.
Though security agents did not find Cohen to be armed with any weapons or contraband, when she stepped through the security checkpoint the alarm went off, causing her to become disoriented. Adding to the confusion, Cohen is blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and partially paralyzed. Because of her mental and physical disabilities, she was startled by the agents’ behavior and fought back when they tried to lead her away, her family said.
In the arrest report, airport police say they were clear in communicating to Cohen that she needed to undergo additional screening after setting off the alarm. She instead refused this request, as well as one to leave the security area, which they told her would cause her to miss her flight.