John A. Christina was arrested Wednesday for punching a TSA agent in Indianapolis. (Photo: Indianapolis Airport)
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"I was only kidding with you."
A Connecticut man was arrested in Indianapolis on Wednesday for punching a TSA agent after submitting to a full body scan by one of the airports new x-ray imaging machines.
51-year-old John A. Christina was charged with misdemeanor battery in connection with the incident that happened at about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday at Indianapolis International Airport.
According to police, Christina admitted to punching the officer, 28-year-old Gregory J. Hutman of Ohio, after passing through the advanced imaging machine and asking the officer about increased security procedures, the Washington Post reports. When Hutman replied that he does not normally work in Indianapolis and could not answer the question, Christina punched him in the chest, police said.
Hutman, who's usually assigned to the Dayton, Ohio, airport, asked Christina why he punched him.
"I was only kidding with you," Christina replied.
It's unclear from the police report if Christina was upset about the screening procedures or simply inquiring about them. According to the Indianapolis Star, the police report indicates that Christina has a history of medical issues, including two metal implants, a colostomy bag, and a fused right wrist.
Jim Fotenos, spokesman for the Transportation Security Agency, called the incident "shameful" in an airport police report: "Our transportation security officers work on the front lines to protect the nation from a terrorist attack and physical violence against them is shameful. TSA will work with local authorities to see that appropriate action is taken."
John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said TSA needs to better inform the general public about the new security procedures, but also said that the attack is part of a backlash fueled by the media.
"This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs based on a few widely reported but largely ill-founded claims repeated over and over again by the media," Gage said. "Like all Americans, TSOs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These men and women are as the first line of defense against those who seek to harm this country."
According to the Post, AFGE is hoping vying to become the only union representing TSA agents.
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