An elderly woman in a wheelchair was repetitively searched by Transport Security Administration (TSA) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport.
96-year-old Evelyn LaBrier became a victim of an extensive 6-minute pat-down when she was travelling to Anderson, Indianapolis with her daughter, Jeanne Clarkson.
Clarkson recorded the entire incident, which she quoted "prolonged and repetitive,” and uploaded it to Facebook.
The video went viral instantly and caused a furor online.
“My 96-year-old mother being extensively searched by the TSA. The 3 of us were all in wheelchairs. Only my 96-year-old mother was subjected to this prolonged, repetitive search,” wrote Clarkson.
The recording showed an elderly woman in a wheelchair being searched by female TSA officers. The officer then asked her to remove her jacket, to which she complied. The officer then began the pat-down process and searched the woman extensively.
LaBrier is then told to lift her arms and legs. She is then searched underneath breasts, stomach and is even told to lift herself up first from the right side and then the left so the officer could check underneath her.
Clarkson can then heard in the video saying, “What the hell do you think she's going to do? Set off a shoe bomb?"
“This is uncalled for….She’s 96-years-old, she’s not Gumby,” a man then said.
Despite the frustration, the pat-down continued. At one point a female officer even tried to block Clarkson’s view to hinder the recording. As Clarkson continued to protest, a male TSA officer said, “Ma’am, it’s simply our procedures.”
Clarkson’s mother was finally released after four minutes.
“You’re set to go. Thank you very much,” said the TSA officer.
"I was just shocked. I've traveled with her before, I've been in a wheelchair myself unable to walk through the machines and I've never had that kind of a pat-down ever. I was just shocked. I couldn't believe they were doing this to my 96-year-old mother. It was just shock, and frustration because they would not talk to me. I felt helpless,” Clarkson told CBS News.
Clarkson lodged a complaint with the airport and was told by airport authorities that they have shared “comments with the TSA for their immediate review and appropriate action.”
TSA released a statement to CBS News after the agency was reached out for comment.
“TSA is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating all passengers with dignity and respect. In this instance, the TSA officer provided advisements during the pat-down and was extremely polite. The passenger was very cooperative and gave no indication that she was agitated or in discomfort. She received a pat-down and was cleared for her flight,” read the statement.
However, Clarkson said the incident has left her mother shaken.
"She didn't know what to say. She does not want to fly again ever. She didn't know what they were looking for. She was scared. She was just following directions. She said she didn't know what to do,” she said.
In 2017, TSA rolled out a more physical pat-down technique at airport security screening lines. The new technique, which was dubbed “legalized groping,” scraped previously used methods at airport security checks.
The change in technique was required as the Department of Homeland Security audited that airports were failing to detect handguns and other weapons.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters, Mario Anzuoni