Airport Assault?

"I just felt myself flying across the room. I thought I was going to die," Robin remembers. "I was flying from D.C. back home to New York. I got to the [Transportation Security Administration] TSA screening and they X-rayed my bag, and they said, ‘Oh, she's got a bottle.' I said, ‘Oh, that's just my contact lens solution. Feel free to throw it out,' and then they took me to the secondary screening area. The officer came from behind, picked me up and threw me across the room, into another passenger and into a metal chair. And then he took my arm, and he started twisting it around until I felt it breaking. And I go, ‘Oh, my God, you're breaking my arm.' Then he picked me up, threw me against a metal table. There were three officers beating me up. There were two holding me down while he smashed my head into a table. I didn't know who was beating me up or why. I just kept saying, ‘Get off of me, get off of me, get off of me.' He gave me a concussion from hitting my head against the table. It's a permanent traumatic brain injury.

 

"I used to be pretty intelligent. I used to pride myself on my ability to write. Now, I don't remember, and it's embarrassing," Robin says. "Going to the airport now, I'm afraid of being beat up by security again. It scares me to death."

"This just seems crazy to me. You had a bottle of contact solution?" Dr. Phil asks Robin.

"Yes," she says.

"What did you say? Did you make a threat?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No. I said, ‘Oh, that's my contact lens solution. Feel free to throw it out.'"

"Come on, that doesn't make sense. What happened? Did you get frustrated? Did you get irritated? Were they rude to you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No," she says.

As the security footage plays, Dr. Phil says, "Something that bothers me about this is if you look at this whole tape, before he throws you to the ground, it looks to me like he's getting agitated. He's back behind you, he's not even talking to you, but he's throwing his hands up in the air, he's doing air quotes to the police, he starts to get into an agitated posture, but he wasn't even talking to you. Why is that? Do you have any sense of why that happened?"

"I have no idea," Robin says.

Dr. Phil replays a portion of the footage where Robin was thrown into another woman and hit the floor. "What were they saying to you at the time?" he asks.

"They weren't saying anything while they were beating me. I didn't even know I was being beat up at first. I kind of felt myself flying across the room and then all of a sudden I'm on the floor, and I'm looking up, and I'm like, ‘Oh, my God, I'm getting beaten up!'" Robin says. "I didn't see it coming."

Dr. Phil takes a closer look at where Robin says the officers smashed her head into the table. "So, why you? You didn't say anything to agitate them?"

"No."

"You weren't resisting. It's apparent that you weren't resisting on the tape to me," Dr. Phil says. "Why do you think they chose to do this?"

"They probably chose me because I don't look like the type of person who would fight back. I feel like if I were a man, or if I were with my boyfriend, if I weren't traveling alone, they wouldn't have done this to me," she says.

Robin is suing the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department for 10 million dollars.

Dr. Phil turns to Robin's lawyer, Alan Cilman. "What's the cause of action that you're bringing against these people?"

"We have assault and battery, malicious prosecution, false arrest, and gross, willful and wanton negligence," he says. 

"I had black and blue marks all over my body," Robin says. "When I went to the neurologist about my concussion, he said, ‘I see a handprint on your arm in black and blue.' The officer's handprints were in my arms in black and blue."

 

NBC Today Show travel correspondent Peter Greenberg joins the show. Also, via satellite is Ralph Nader, 2008 independent candidate for president and longtime consumer advocate.

Dr. Phil asks Peter, "What in the world is going on here? Who are these security people? What do we know about them? What's their training? What's their background? Who are they?"

"Well, the biggest problem with the TSA is the people who are put on the front lines are given the least ability to think," Peter says.

"Well, we shouldn't over-generalize," Ralph interjects. "TSA personnel are usually very professional, and they've got a serious job, but once in a while, they spin out of control. Maybe some of them are frustrated wrestlers," he jokes, "and when that happens, and you get damage to the passenger, and you get all kinds of abuse of process and other things that the attorney just pointed out, it's very important to sue these authorities and sue these people."

Alan clarifies that they aren't suing the TSA or airport security. "The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which run Reagan and Dulles [airports], have their own police department. It was those police who did that," he says.

"But it actually happened at the TSA checkpoint," Peter adds.