Karen McGee, a deaf, 71-year-old Florida resident, is considering a lawsuit against the city of Austin after what was supposed to be a three-hour layover at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport turned into an arrest, a weekend in the Travis County Jail, and an arm broken by a jailer and left untreated for three days.
McGee’s ordeal began on the afternoon of Sept. 13, 2022, as she waited for a connecting flight from Austin to Seattle. She was flying alone for the first time in her life and nervous because her hearing aids weren’t working well, so she sat within sight of the ticket desk to see when her plane would begin boarding. After noticing that it hadn’t boarded on time she spoke with a ticket agent and was distressed to learn that she had missed an announcement that her gate had changed. With her plane already gone, she was issued a ticket for a flight leaving that evening.
While McGee waited for this flight, she texted with her cousin and learned there was another plane parked at the same gate, going to the same destination. She approached the ticket agent and asked if she could switch her ticket to this flight. She had trouble hearing the agent’s response but understood the answer was no. She then made the same request to a different agent. Unbeknownst to McGee, this second agent called the police.