A TSA agent in New York’s LaGuardia Airport ordered a passenger out of line for special inspection because of a jar of peanut butter.
The passenger, Frank Hannibal, had a jar of Crazy Richard’s gourmet peanut butter, which being gourmet, had a layer of oil above the peanut butter.
John Marzulli and Corky Siemaszko report for the New York Daily News, Feb. 8, 2013, that Hannibal, a New Yorker, made a sarcastic joke to his wife and twin 6-year-old daughters: “They’re looking to confiscate my explosives.”
The TSA agent, Edwin Sanchez, overheard the remark and called the cops.
Minutes later, Officer Spencer Newman slapped the cuffs on Hannibal and charged him with falsely reporting an incident, a felony.
Hannibal spent the next 25 hours in a lockup, where the prison chow consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As described by Hannibal, “The jelly looked like pus, the peanut butter like God knows what and the bread was hard as a rock.”
Hannibal was eventually allowed to leave.
Although the Queens district attorney declined to prosecute him, Hannibal is suing the TSA agent and the arresting Port Authority cop for $5 million, filing his complaint in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Hannibal said: “It sounds laughable now but at the time to be led out of there like a terrorist was unbelievable. My whole life was up in the air. It was a nightmare. My children were overwhelmed. It was crazy.”
Hannibal said conditions in the lockup were deplorable and he was threatened at one point by another prisoner over the use of a pay phone.
The TSA prohibits passengers from carrying on liquids in containers larger than three ounces to prevent the possibility of a liquid explosive being brought aboard a jetliner.
Hannibal’s lawyer, Alan D. Levine of Queens, said all this could have been avoided if airport authorities exercised some common sense: “It’s a sorry state of affairs in this country when sarcasm is considered a felony.”
I hope Hannibal wins the lawsuit!