Woman to fight charges in Tennessee airport pat-down

Woman to fight charges in Tennessee airport pat-down

August 2nd, 2011 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee woman charged with disorderly conduct after a dispute over a security screening at the Nashville airport plans to fight the charges.

Andrea Abbott, 41, was arrested last month after airport police said she was belligerent, refusing a body scan and then a pat-down for herself and her 14-year-old daughter, whom she was accompanying to the gate for a flight to Baltimore.

The Clarksville woman eventually allowed her daughter to be screened but then walked away, refusing herself to be patted down. When she was told to return she cursed and told officers, "I'm done with you people," according to a police report.

Defense attorney Brent Horst said in an interview Monday that he feels Abbott did nothing illegal and believes the officer violated her First Amendment right to freely express her opinion about the screening.

He quoted from the arrest report in which Officer Jeffery Nolen wrote, "Ms. Abbott was loud in her speech and very belligerent" before her arrest.

"He arrested her because she just wanted to argue with him, and that is just not a crime," Horst said.

Airport spokeswoman Emily Richard issued a statement defending Nolen's actions.

"Ms. Abbott refused to be screened and was verbally abusive. The Airport Authority's Department of Public Safety followed its procedures and tried to work with Ms. Abbott, who was not cooperative and subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct," the statement said.

A local court hearing on the charge initially scheduled for Monday was carried over to Oct. 13.