CRIME

Woman, 82, arrested at airport says she forgot bipolar meds

An 82-year-old Texas woman who was jailed for about two hours after scuffling with an airport security officer in Kansas expressed embarrassment Friday, calling herself a "plain old grandma" who'd forgotten to take her bipolar medication.

The confrontation ensued Wednesday when Transportation Security Administration workers at Eisenhower International Airport in Wichita tried to confiscate Lila Mae Bryan's bottle of Bath and Body Works foaming hand gel because it exceeded the 3.4 ounce limit.

The TSA said Friday that the 5-foot-2, 120-pound woman walked around an X-ray screening belt early Wednesday morning and assaulted a TSA officer. The officer, 37, was not injured, according to reports.

"I can't believe I did all that," Bryan, of Mesquite, said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press, after issuing an apology.

TSA spokeswoman Carrie Harmon said the security officer found the bottle during a routine search when the woman's bag triggered an alarm. An airport police officer who saw the commotion "removed the passenger from the checkpoint," Harmon said. Airport police authorized the woman's arrest.

Bryan said she is "usually really good" about taking her medication, but she hadn't slept at all the night before and was exhausted from the trip. Her 85-year-old husband, Silas Bryan, said they had been to their farm in Kansas and gone to her 65th class reunion. He said they'd had a long drive that included stops to visit relatives. Because he has Parkinson's disease, she did all the driving.

"Sometimes I just guess I lose it," she said after a trip to the beauty shop and grocery store. "I was so tired, and I was upset. I've never been in jail before. I'm just a plain old grandma, great-grandma."

She spent nearly two hours in the jail's booking area and was photographed and fingerprinted before being freed, Sedgwick County Sheriff's Lt. Lin Dehning told The Wichita Eagle.

After hearing about the incident, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett authorized the woman's immediate release without bond.

"She was very shaken, embarrassed, and I think the simplest description would be overwhelmed . by the time we got to her," Bennett told The Eagle on Thursday. "She was clearly having a hard time handling the stress of the situation."

Bennett said his staff picked up the woman from the jail, took her to his office and gave her something to eat and some coffee before she was reunited with her husband at the courthouse. The airline drove the couple back to the airport and "got them on the next flight back home," Bennett said.

Bryan praised Bennett, saying "the Lord sent him." She said she is "so sorry it happened" and that if she had it to do over again, she would tell the TSA worker to throw out the hand gel or "take it home and use it because it's really good."

Jennifer Magana, the city attorney, told The Associated Press that the woman was cited by police for misdemeanor battery but that a decision hadn't been made on whether to prosecute. Messages from The Associated Press seeking additional information from airport police were not immediately returned. A spokesman in Bennett's office said he was out of the office Friday.

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Associated Press reporter Jamie Stengle contributed from Dallas.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com