A U.S. lawmaker from California wants answers from the TSA, after reports of a double amputee Marine being humiliated by security screeners at a Phoenix airport.
Toran Gaal was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan back in 2011. He lost both legs and fractured his skull.
“He’s really been through an awful, awful lot,” said grandfather Jim Gaal. “For them to put him through that was not really right.”
His grandfather is disturbed by Gaal’s claim that TSA agents made him remove his prosthetic legs during pre-flight screening at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.
“Without his artificial legs, he’s pretty much limited to crawling around on the floor,” Jim Gaal says.
A volunteer escorting the group of Marines was outraged when he says one of the agents made Gaal get out of his wheelchair and walk. That part of the incident was caught on tape.
“He cannot stand up by himself and I tried to explain that and they don’t want to hear it,” Jim Phillips explained.
“And then, I said, ‘I’m sorry that has to happen to you,’ and he just goes’ ‘You know what? Get me the F outta here.’”
Cameras were rolling during the pat-down. But Gaal was out of camera range when agents allegedly made him take off his prosthetic legs.
The story made national headlines after Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50th District) fired off an angry letter to the TSA.
But the TSA is denying that its agents ever forced Gaal to remove his prosthetics.
They released this statement: “TSA works to facilitate the screening of injured and wounded service members with dignity and respect.”
Gaal’s grandfather talks about the emotional impact of the alleged incident.
“I just know him, and it probably really bothered him when it happened, but once it was over, he he put it out of his mind and he’s not going to let it hurt him… he’s been hurt enough.”
Gaal is currently recovering at a rehab facility in San Diego, and, depending on his progress, he could be released within the next year.