At the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Jennifer Williamson made a video of her son, Aaron Williamson, being given an invasive and lengthy pat-down by a Transport Security Administration agent.
While the TSA is defending the officer’s pat-down of the boy, who suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder, the video posted by Jennifer on her Facebook profile has enraged thousands of people who viewed it. Since being posted on Sunday morning, the video has amassed 5.3 million views and has been shared over 88,000 times.
The TSA officer is seen to give thirteen year old Aaron a pat-down that seems a little too thorough. Even though the officer explains to Aaron what’s coming, and he acknowledges that he understands, Jennifer claims that she is ‘livid’ after the experience and feels like her family was ‘treated like dogs.’
“Let me make something else crystal clear. He set off NO alarms,” Williamson wrote on her Facebook post. “He physically did not alarm at all during screening, he passed through the detector just fine.”
The video shows the TSA officer, who’s wearing blue gloves, move behind Aaron and start the search with his left shoulder, and then the right shoulder before running the back of his gloved hand down the teenage boy’s back four times. The pat-down doesn’t end there, the officer continues to run his hands up and down the kid’s torso on both sides and then goes on to examine the waistband of the now traumatized boy’s shorts.
If that wasn’t enough, the officer then runs the back of his hand down the kid’s buttock and upper leg at least six times and then moves his hands to the hams. The 2-minute video shows in detail, how thoroughly the 13 year old was checked multiple times.
The TSA defended the procedure, in a statement to news outlet WFAA, saying the search was in response to “an alarm of the passenger’s laptop.” TSA also claims that the family was only detained for about 45 minutes, which includes the time taken to search the items and discuss the screening.
“We have been through hell this morning,” Jennifer Williamson wrote on her Facebook profile. She says that she had asked the TSA to treat him in a way that would not augment his disability.
While the TSA refused any alternate to the pat-down, Jennifer says the whole procedure took so long they missed their flight.
The TSA said it was just following orders.
“TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger, and in this case, all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of the passenger’s laptop,” Lisa Farbstein, TSA spokeswoman, said in an email. “The video shows a male TSA officer explaining the procedure to the passenger, who fully cooperates. Afterward, the TSA officer was instructed by his supervisor, who was observing, to complete the final step of the screening process.
“In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes, and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to mitigate the concerns of the mother. The passengers were at the checkpoint for approximately 45 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection.”